Swinton woman picks up mop and bucket to climb career ladder

A former mill worker turned cleaner has completed an apprenticeship in team leading four years after being made redundant at the age of 48.

After leaving school with no qualifications, her only work experience being on a factory floor and at an age when most are counting down to retirement, Linda Whitworth, now aged 52, from Swinton in Salford, thought she would struggle to rejoin the jobs market.

Linda is pictured, left to right with Karen Brown, acting facilities manager from NHS Salford, Gail Walker, a member of Linda’s team, and Robin Lindsay from Damar Training.

She spent two years as a community carer before landing a job as a domestic supervisor with NHS Salford. Within a few months of starting her new role at the Eccles Gateway Centre, she was given the opportunity to take up an apprenticeship through Stockport-based Damar Training.

Linda, who is married with a grown up daughter said: "I still can’t quite believe that after all this time I have a finally got a qualification under my belt. It was quite strange at first to think that I was doing an apprenticeship at my age but it turned out to be one of the best things I ever did.

"The apprenticeship in team leading has been a real eye-opener. I have learned so much, not only about my job but also about how to motivate my team and how to ensure they are happy in their work. I also feel like I have gained a lot from the course too. I feel proud to have achieved something and I feel much more confident in my ability to do the job."

The intermediate apprenticeship in team leading is designed for people who are new to management and involved in the supervision of staff by planning, allocating and monitoring work. The apprenticeship is made up of a mix of workplace, online and training centre learning and those who pass the course come away with an NVQ. Topics covered by the apprenticeship include agreeing and communicating targets with staff, leading team briefings, resolving problems and complaints, managing underperforming team members and coaching staff.

Karen Brown, Acting Facilities Manager from NHS Salford is Linda’s line manager. She said: "Damar Training helped bring out the best in Linda. We have all been incredibly impressed with how she has progressed in the management role. She understands her team well and her confidence has developed as well as her managerial skills."

Barbara Jackson, Head of Learning and Development at NHS Salford added: "As an organisation we have a successful history of supporting apprentices and we see it as being mutually beneficial for the organisation and people in Salford. Over the past three years we have had numerous apprentices who have made excellent contributions to NHS Salford and have used the Apprenticeship programme to progress their own careers and further their personal development."

Jonathan Bourne, Managing Director at Damar Training said: "Linda is a prime example of how it’s never too late to retrain or develop your skills. This apprenticeship was the first time she has undertaken any training since leaving school and it is fantastic to see how well she has done and how she thrived under the challenge.

"Many people think that apprenticeships are just for people straight out of school or college but this is certainly not the case. Apprenticeships are a great way for employers to help their staff develop new skills and knowledge and they can be designed to suit almost any job role."

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