Apprenticeships prescribed by local pharmacy

Stephanie Burrows is serving a Customer Services apprenticeship at M&M Pharmacies

A Bishop Auckland family business which has employed more than 20 apprentices over the past decade is backing a national campaign this week promoting apprenticeships.

M & M Pharmacies, which employs nearly 50 staff, is supporting National Apprenticeships Week which aims to encourage people to choose an apprenticeship as a pathway to their dream career.

The firm was launched more than 40 years ago and now has four retail pharmacies and a mail order business employing registered pharmacists and technicians, and qualified dispensing assistants.

“There is a lot of training involved with this apprenticeship and I learn something new each day.”

Among the 48-strong team are six former apprentices who were promoted to permanent positions and three current apprentices – business administrator Jessica Slater, 18, of Bishop Auckland, and customer services apprentices Stephanie Burrows, 17, of Byers Green, and Amy O’Neill, 17, from Wolsingham.

Customer service apprentices complete a pharmacy counter assistant qualification which runs alongside the customer service qualification, while business studies apprentices receive additional training around the firm’s accounting package Sage.

Stephanie said: “There is a lot of training involved with this apprenticeship and I learn something new each day. I have become more confident in talking to people and learned things which will benefit me throughout my life. The apprenticeship will set me up for the future and give me two qualifications.”

“We have had more than 20 apprentices over the past eight years and we still employee six of these”

M & M Pharmacies, which has branches in Meadowfield, Bishop Auckland and Shildon, has received the Investors in People Award four times.

Director and Office Manager Shana Woolley, said apprenticeships certainly worked for the firm: “We have had more than 20 apprentices over the past eight years and we still employee six of these – as well as our three new apprentices. Most of the others have gone on to work in the industry.

“We find most apprentices are keen to learn, enthusiastic and make good members of the team. They are very organised, extremely helpful and professional, bring an element of youth to our company and we feel we are giving something back.”

Bishop Auckland College supports a wide range of employers in finding apprentices and managing their apprenticeship training. Opportunities range from physical education and teaching assistants in schools to engineering, joinery, bricklaying, painting & decorating, motor vehicle, business administration and customer service.

Camilla Race, Head of Apprenticeships and Business Development, said: “M & M Pharmacies is a fantastic exponent of apprenticeships, with many apprentices either being promoted into full time positions after completing their training or moving elsewhere within the industry.

“They are one of many local businesses in County Durham we support and I would encourage any firm interested in hiring a new apprentice or just finding out more about apprenticeships to contact the college for help and advice.”

Employers should contact the recruitment team on (01388) 743164 and people looking for apprenticeship opportunities should visit bacoll.ac.uk, email start@bacoll.ac.uk or call 0800 0926506.


This week marks the 11th annual celebration by the National Apprenticeships Service, with employers and apprentices from across England promoting apprenticeships. The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘Apprenticeships Work’ – showcasing how they benefit individuals, employers, communities and the wider economy. Find out more at naw2018.co.uk.

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