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Virgo Health takes up new apprenticeship scheme

The programme aims to provide a practical alternative to university education

Virgo Health has employed its first paid public relations apprentice, Ally Dwane, as part of a new Higher Apprenticeship scheme.

The appointment, which represents a first within health PR, was made through a new collaboration between apprenticeship provider Pearson in Practice and the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA), which aims to encourage diversity in a graduate-dominated industry.

The scheme, which offers the equivalent to a foundation degree, is inline with the government's economic plans to develop skills for young people, while providing an alternative to a university education.

“Virgo Health aims to support young people looking to pursue a career in healthcare communications,” explained Anna Parfitt, HR director at Virgo Health.

“For the last three years we have hosted placement students from Bournemouth University and when we heard about the PR Apprenticeships scheme we were keen to get involved.

“We believe the programme will make a real difference to the future of the industry, attracting more talent and raising the profile of PR as a viable career option, especially for those who haven't attended university.

“Ally impressed us at her interview by demonstrating her creative flair, impressive writing skills and keen interest in PR. We are looking forward to helping her grow into a talented PR professional,” Parfitt added.

Dwane will be working on the agency's consumer health portfolio, which includes the brands Seven Seas and Scholl.

Francis Ingham, PRCA chief executive, said: "The PR Apprenticeship scheme is all about increasing the diversity of the PR industry workforce. It ensures consultancies of different sizes and specialisations can recruit the brightest talent from a range of backgrounds, and nurture the practitioners of the future.

“I'm delighted Virgo Health, which is now part of PRCA member GolinHarris, one of the leading global PR consultancies, has hired an apprentice. The scheme represents a significant opportunity for Ally to develop a range of skills in the communications sector and work for a consultancy that delivers a unique, highly specialised service in the rapidly growing health sector."

Lasting at least 12-months, the programme is available throughout the UK and involves a mixture of on and off-the-job training.

Fiona McBride, CEO of Pearson in Practice, explains: “The response to the PR Higher Apprenticeship has been extremely positive, reflecting the credibility of apprenticeships as a genuine alternative to university education.

“We're delighted to have placed an apprentice who is as passionate about the healthcare industry as she is about PR. Through her position on the programme, Ally will gain on-the-job training as well as a nationally recognised qualification, equipping her with all the skills necessary to thrive in the PR industry.”

8th October 2012

From: Marketing

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