To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we’ve been catching up with Sophie Bloomfield, a former personal trainer who is now learning to become a physiotherapist through an apprenticeship.

Sophie, who is based in the Colchester community team, is studying for a Pre-registration Physiotherapy Apprenticeship Level 6 – the equivalent to a degree – having joined the NHS in 2020 to develop her career.

She was working as a personal trainer and noticed she was seeing more and more people with injuries that needed more support for their recovery. It sparked her interest in wanting to expand her knowledge, so she joined the NHS to gain experience and develop her skills.

Sophie, whose job title is associate practitioner in community rehabilitation, said: “I met a lot of people with low-level injuries that affected their lives, like tennis elbow and in helping them I became really interested in physiotherapy.

“I wanted to be able to get people back to where they wanted to be.”

‘My growing confidence’

The 30-year-old wanted to move into physiotherapy but needed qualifications – which fitted perfectly with an apprenticeship offered by ESNEFT in collaboration with the University of Essex while gaining on-the-job experience and getting paid.

Not only has Sophie completed her first year successfully – she achieved a distinction with her grades and was placed on the university’s Executive Dean’s List of Excellence.

The List of Excellence celebrate the high achievement of students obtaining an average of 70 per cent or above in their course.

Sophie added: “I worked hard and was so pleased with my results. It was an amazing surprise to find out I was on the Dean’s list.

“What’s been really important to me is how I’ve seen my practice expand as my confidence has grown. My knowledge and how I can collaborate with patients is so much better than before. I want that to continue – I want to see my confidence with patients grow and my practice continue to develop.”

Apprenticeships at Essex

The University of Essex currently delivers 10 apprenticeship standards in 3 schools: Health and Social Care, Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences and Computer Science and Electronic Engineering.

We currently have 380 apprentices on our programmes and work with over 70 employers.

For more information on delivery, entry criteria and content please access the webpages

For employer information please see: Degree and higher apprenticeships for businesses

University of Essex Employers can make nominations for 2024 intakes now via