Trailblazing apprentices achieve UK academic first

Categories: School of Health and Society

Students at the University of Salford are celebrating this month, after becoming the first in the UK to complete a Public Health Practitioner apprenticeship degree.

This academic first sees five apprentices become the first to graduate the pioneering course, launched in 2019, and are automatically eligible to register with the UK Public Health Register as Public Health Practitioners.

Dr Anna Cooper-Ryan, Head of Public Health at the University of Salford’s School of Health and Society, said: “We’re very proud of our trailblazing graduate apprentices who, through their hard work and dedication, have exceeded all our expectations. 

“The course was developed through consultation with what was then Public Health England, and employers from across the country and is designed to provide a new way to develop and retain a fully professionalised workforce in public health.

“And of course, when we became the first university in the UK to launch the course, back in January 2019, we had no idea that COVID-19 was about to vividly demonstrate the need for new, flexible, innovative routes into public health, such as this one.

“Right from the start we’ve been very proud to be leading the way on this, and over the last three years we’ve developed strong, positive relationships with employers and line managers, to help support the personalised development of each apprentice.

“We’re constantly applying what we learn to the course, and we’re now on our fourth intake with numbers of new apprentices growing every year. And several apprentices were promoted by their employers even before they graduated.”    

image shows laptop and textbook for a practical guide to promoting health

Aimee Gibson, one of the recent graduates, decided at 18 to turn down a place at university, and instead took a job in public health with Trafford Council.

Aimee said: "I knew this was the career I wanted, but I knew I also wanted to pursue an undergraduate degree, so the apprentice degree at Salford University was perfect for me. And it turned out to be a brilliant decision!”

“The course has allowed me to expand and develop my knowledge and skills, and because I was able to work full-time throughout I’ve also been able to develop my career with my employer and earn a salary while studying.”

Jim McGlynn, who works for Bury Council, is another of the graduates. Jim said: “I’ve never classed myself as an ‘academic’ person and at the start I really wasn’t sure about returning to education. But the support I received from the University and my lecturers was second to none, and they helped me to successfully adapt very quickly.

“The course was consistently interesting, and I soon found that I enjoyed using what I learned on the course in my job, as it aligned so well with my work.

“In fact, what I learned was so helpful I was able to successfully apply for a promotion, to Public Health Practitioner for Mental Health and Wellbeing, before I’d even graduated.” 

A degree apprenticeship combines academic study at university with on-the-job training in the workplace and the Apprenticeship Services Unit at the University of Salford offers excellent support throughout the apprenticeship journey.

If you would like to learn more about the course then please visit the School of Health and Society degree apprenticeship page on the University website.  

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.