Pharmacy dispenses traineeship advice

A Stoke-on-Trent pharmacy business is calling for more employers to consider offering young people extended work placements, known as traineeships.

Raven Pharmacy has branches in Cobridge, Burslem and Endon. Last year they provided an 8-week work placement opportunity to 17-year-old Chloe Ashby. Chloe left school with a plan to join the Army, but this fell through after she wasn’t accepted, and she was referred to Stoke on Trent College for a traineeship programme which includes maths, English and career coaching as well as the work placement with Raven Pharmacy.

The pharmacy directors were so pleased with Chloe’s performance that they offered her an Apprenticeship as a Trainee Pharmacy Dispenser, working alongside the company’s full-time employees and directors.

Raven Pharmacy director Harpal Bhandal explains: “Traineeships give us a chance to give young people like Chloe an opportunity to start work and develop, and that is important to us. She completed her traineeship with ease and that is when we decided to offer her an Apprenticeship. Chloe is helpful, friendly and has a great manner with the customers.

We have had five Apprentices with Stoke on Trent College over the last three years, all of whom were offered full time jobs as Pharmacy Dispensers at the end. Everyone knows that Apprenticeships can work really well for businesses, but traineeships can be less well known. Traineeships are the stage before an Apprenticeship – it’s basically an extended interview process, it gives both you and the young person a chance to see what is expected of them and make sure they are the right fit, before you go down the Apprenticeship route and they start their qualification.

We’d definitely recommend that other business consider opening up more traineeship opportunities so the college can place more young people for their 10-week work placements.”

Chloe says: “I had always wanted to go in the Army, and when that fell through I was a bit lost and wasn’t sure what to do next. The College helped me by starting me on the traineeship, which is a mixture of employment training and a 10-week work placement with a local business. I’m really grateful to the directors and everyone at Raven Pharmacy for offering me the placement and then taking me on as an Apprentice.

Chloe now combines her work at the pharmacy with attending classes at Stoke on Trent College one day per month. Her role involves dealing with enquiries, helping prepare medicines and serving customers and liaising between each of Raven Pharmacy’s outlets in Cobridge, Burslem and Endon.

She says: “What’s great is that the reason I wanted to be in the Army was that I wanted to help people, and I have found that I can do that in this job, too. That’s what I really enjoy. My confidence has grown a lot because I’m talking to different people from all walks of life – in person and on the phone, all day long.”

Chloe adds: “I really enjoy my Apprenticeship and my job. It’s a great experience and I’m getting valuable skills, while earning around £600 per month which isn’t at all bad for a 17-year old. I’m hoping to stay on with Raven Pharmacy and get a full-time job.

My advice to anyone else considering a traineeship is just to go for it! It’s been absolutely brilliant for me and it’s a great start to your career. Whichever kind of business you work in, you’ll build your confidence and learn what employers need from you, and it can open the door to an Apprenticeship like it did for me. It’s great.”

For more information on Apprenticeships contact the team on 01782 603603 or email:

For more information about Traineeships at Stoke on Trent College, please contact Emily Collins on 07796 708229 or Barry Brown 07786 114066 or visit

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