Tag Archives: Apprenticeships

Learning Journey – Apprentice Library Assistant

My transition into an apprenticeship and the start of my time in the NHS followed a long journey of higher education, part-time work and an ongoing unfulfillment with my professional progress. Initially pursuing an undergraduate degree was driven as the next logical step after my A-Levels, and my postgraduate degree seemed to temporarily fill a gap I thought needed filled. Alongside my educational career I worked in various administration roles in different sectors which made do at the time but never left me satisfied. Working in a library was always a goal of mine, but I was never quite sure how to get there. The librarian felt like a role you were born into, and the path towards it seemed almost hidden.

Getting into my apprenticeship with Southmead Library was a fruitful result of a vigilant library career quest, including countless job searches and CV tweaks. When I saw the opportunity to join the LKS team as an apprentice I was immediately excited – professional and educational development? That was the dream! I was lucky enough to be picked for interview and when I received the congratulations call I was overcome with happiness and relief. My time in my role has far exceeded my expectations thanks to the brilliant team I have come into and my ever-growing understanding of what the role can encompass. A most recent example of this is getting the opportunity to look into decolonising the library collection, looking into expanding the diversity of both authors and visual content alongside compiling lists of reading materials and resources to implement. Being able to take on this project was not only relevant to me from a racial perspective, but highlighted the constant development of healthcare library collections and the potential for building more representative resources. I would never have imagined getting to undertake this kind of work so early in my role, so it has been a fruitful endeavour. In just under a year I feel I have come such a long way in my role thanks to the professional guidance of my colleagues, getting to grips with the daily operations of a healthcare library and opportunities to take on new responsibilities.

Though my journey to my current role felt longer than expected I do not regret any of my experiences. Undertaking two degrees allowed me to hone my writing capabilities and the academic research has largely helped with searching for articles and navigating library classifications. Whilst administration was never my long term goal, it meant I developed a wide set of transferrable skills of working with different systems and responsibilities that are found across many office-based jobs. Doing an apprenticeship at this stage in my life has allowed me to put my goals into action and given me clear direction on how I want my career to progress. Assignments set by LMP and projects arising in the workplace equip me with both a broad and specialist insight into library provision.

As a young professional, I hope my apprenticeship experience so far can help inform and encourage others looking for focused development to look into apprenticeship opportunities – it can introduce you to a whole new world of possibilities!

Shakira Rawlins
Library Assistant
Library and Knowledge Service, North Bristol NHS Trust
Southmead Hospital
Bristol BS10 5NB

Apprenticeships in NHS Libraries – get involved!

The new Level 3 Library, Information and Archive Services Assistant (LIAS) apprenticeship was approved for delivery in December 2018.

The standard covers a wide range of professional skills and defines the activities of a LIAS Level 3 apprentice as:

“LIAS Assistants help users find the information and resources they need in order to resolve their specific query. They work with people from all parts of society and the workforce, providing essential digital and analogue information services – issuing and returning materials, organizing collections, answering research and information queries, improving customers’ literacy skills, – quite often at the forefront of innovation.”

Within NHS libraries there are a couple of apprentices enrolled on the LIAS apprenticeship already and a few more are due to start soon. It is expected that there will be further LKS apprenticeships, either a level 6 or level 7 (equivalent to a Masters degree) in due course.

As we know in the UK 97% of the library profession identifies as white. Being a mostly postgraduate entry profession presents significant barriers to entry. Apprenticeships are a key route to diversification of the workforce, providing another alternative route to qualification alongside CILIP Professional Registration Certification. In addition, because of the Apprenticeship Levy enrolling staff on apprenticeships is a great way to allow Trusts to recoup funding.

Currently there is only one national provider for the LIAS apprenticeship, LMP. Procurement has been completed via Health Education England so it will be straightforward for LKS Managers to procure apprenticeships locally in collaboration with their Trust’s apprenticeship leads.

From our perspective in North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) Library & Knowledge Service, we were thrilled to welcome our first LIAS Apprentice, Nicholas Ashton in June 2020. With previous experience in sales, Nicholas understands the importance of providing great customer service and being a team player. We are all looking forward to working with Nicholas and supporting him to complete his apprenticeship.

As our main service point is still closed due to the pandemic Nicholas has mostly been working “agile” (AKA working from home) since he joined us. Members of the LKS team have taken it in turns to meet Nicholas in the Library 1-2 days a week to provide supervision and some (physically distant) face to face contact.

Apprentices are required to do 20% or 1 day a week of-the-job training away from their normal working duties. Off-the-job training can take many forms, the main requirement is that it supports the development of new knowledge, skills and behaviours relevant to the qualification.  So far Nicholas’s Tutor has set him tasks to complete during his off-the-job training.  In future I will use our contacts within the trust to provide him with opportunities to shadow colleagues in other Teams and Departments as well as setting up visits to other library and archive services.

At NELFT apprenticeships are also available to staff currently in post. A previous member of the Team, Clinical Librarian Lisa Burscheidt,  completed the Level 3 Team Leader / Supervisor apprenticeship. It was sometimes challenging to release a key member of the Team 1 day a week for off-the-job training. However, in this case nature of the qualification provided an opportunity for me to delegate some of my responsibilities, including supervision of another member of the team, to make up the off-the-job training requirement. Lisa found the apprenticeship very interesting and useful. As a manager I was very aware of Lisa’s development during the programme and how this contributed positively to the functioning of the team as whole.

So Nicholas is actually our third apprentice! Our first, Alice Cleaver, completed the Level 3 Business and Administration apprenticeship last year. We were able to promote Alice to Library Assistant on completion of her qualification. You can read more about Alice’s experience at NELFT here.

If you would like to be persuaded to recruit a LIAS apprentice or to talk about enrolling current team members on an apprenticeship do get in touch.

Natasha Howard, Knowledge & Library Services Manager, NELFT

What do I do now if I want a library apprentice?

The answer is: you may need to wait for developments in 2017 to start planning.

The original apprenticeship framework for Libraries, Archives, Records and Information Management Services (England) ceases in October 2017. In theory you can still use that framework, however the government funding model for apprenticeships changes in April 2017 to a levy system and the new levy funds will not be available to fund the existing framework. The library apprenticeship framework is appropriate for a variety of information and service related roles, including library assistants and archivists. It is aimed at level three and so includes some entry level management and co-ordination skills. The reality is that very few colleges or centres offer it. You will need to liaise with your learning and development department and local providers.

Apprenticeship frameworks are being replaced by apprenticeship standards, which are designed by employers. Detailed information about the new apprenticeship standards is available from https://www.gov.uk/topic/further-education-skills/apprenticeships or a summary can be found here http://www.cityandguilds.com/apprenticeships

Starting in March 2017 CILIP, the association for library and information professionals, will facilitate the development of new apprenticeship standards by employers of library and knowledge management staff in many sectors. The Knowledge for Healthcare workforce planning and development workstream is involved, and will identify the library skills required for the NHS, and what needs to be included in the standards from our perspective.

All the above links (and more) are available on the Learning Zone under Apprenticeships and will be kept updated as developments progress.

Jenny Turner
ESHT Library Services Manager and Conquest Education Centre Manager
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust