A rewarding career in the care sector where he could make a massive difference to the lives of young people was all that Tom Ratcliffe wanted from a very early age.
That was more than 15 years ago and now Tom is living the dream – working in a vital role as Residential Support Worker at Fairfield Farm College, a specialist college in Wiltshire for students with learning disabilities and difficulties.
And although happy and fulfilled in his role, he’s convinced the decision he made many years ago to devote his working life to young people now has a major impact on his future career path.
Tom, 28, has been working in the care sector since he was 18 and now holds his Level 5 qualification in Health and Social Care Leadership and Management after completing an apprenticeship with Progress to Excellence Ltd.
He explained: “My plan to work in care among young people goes back to when I was about 13. My parents were employed in this sector and I definitely wanted to go down this route too. All I ever wanted was a career in childcare where I was involved in a practical setting among young people with learning difficulties.
“It’s a challenging job here at Fairfield Farm College where we run residential, weekend and day courses. No two days are ever the same, they’re always exciting so there’s no chance of getting bored.”
Tom was encouraged by the college to embark on his Level 5 qualification to build up the necessary skills to manage practice and lead others in adult health and social care provision or in children and young people’s services.
He continued: “I knew the apprenticeship would help me to do my job better. Working in a supported living environment is a job I love so I grasped the opportunity.
“The result is that I now have a greater understanding of my role here and it has enhanced my skills in people management.
“What is really exciting is that the qualification has also made my career prospects really good. I enjoy working here but know that eventually I will need to move on.
“I’ve just picked things up while doing my job so I feel very lucky I now have both the experience and qualifications.”
Studying his level 5 qualification with Progress to Excellence Ltd was perfect for Tom as he could choose to study at a time to suit his work patterns.
He said: “This was extremely important as I work shifts so I could fit my learning schedules around my hours. It was the same for assessment – it all came together really well.”
As for his next steps, Tom is considering a further managerial qualification while working for an organisation and the service users, which he loves.
Progress to Excellence Ltd offers a full suite of health and social care and business related qualifications to support the training needs of health and social care employers. For more information, call 0151 650 6933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.