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This week (14-18 March) marked National Apprenticeship Week - an annual campaign designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

Mark Docherty (pictured right), co-chief executive of Respectful Care, insists the training equips staff with the practical experience and qualifications to deliver the best possible service to clients.

Keen to drive-up standards throughout the industry, Respectful Care quickly established a training partnership with West Notts College that sees their Care & Support Workers undertake an NVQ Level 2 or 3 apprenticeship in health and social care.

Rochelle North (pictured centre) and one of twelve apprenticeships at the company joined in June 2014 after completing her Level 2 apprenticeship with another care-provider.

Keen to progress onto the Level 3, she joined Respectful Care to move her career forward.

The 25-year-old, who spent six years as a hairdresser, dreams of becoming a nurse - and says the apprenticeship is taking her a step closer.

Rochelle, of Mansfield Woodhouse, said: "I came here in order to progress. My goal is to become a nurse but I didn't do very well at school, so this has been a real confidence-booster."

"I'm doing my English and maths again while gaining hands-on experience in the job, which is fantastic.

"Some of our support workers want to move into social work, so the apprenticeship definitely gives you options. The company is very supportive."

Proving that age is no barrier, 53-year-old Kerry Peters (pictured left) is also on a Level 3 apprenticeship.

The grandmother, from Shirebrook, entered the care sector later in life following a varied career.

Kerry spent 35 years as a textiles machinist before working as an assistant in a painting and decorating centre, eventually becoming manager. She then ran her own contract cleaning business.

Deciding on a career-change, Kerry spent a year with a Chesterfield-based care-provider before joining her current employer as a support worker in December 2013 - becoming team leader last August.

She said: "I mentioned to one of my regular clients - a lady in her eighties - I was thinking of doing the Level 3 apprenticeship but was worried I was too old. She told me 'don’t be daft; you can do it'. When I told her I'd enrolled, she was so proud of me.

"It just goes to show, it doesn't matter how old you are - you can still learn new skills. I don't have to sit back and think 'I've reached a certain age, I can't go any further' because I've been given the opportunity to go as far as I want to."

Mr Docherty said: "Our industry is mainly classed as un-skilled, so we're trying to make it as highly-skilled as possible - and part of that comes by gaining formal qualifications."

"The better trained our staff are, the better the standard of care they will give to our clients."

"It also helps us recruit staff because we’re known as a company that gives people a chance to progress."

"It’s every employer's responsibility to up-skill their staff. If any of our care workers go on to become nurses or social workers, I'll be the happiest man alive."

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National Apprenticeship Week