54-year-old apprentice proves it’s never too late to live your dream

Sarah Eley became an apprentice after she was 50. Picture: supplied by Joe Baker

Sarah Eley became an apprentice after she was 50. Picture: supplied by Joe Baker - Credit: Archant

One of the faces of a new national campaign urging more people to become apprentices has proved it's never too late to live your dream.

The Department for Education's Fire it Up campaign is designed to raise awareness about the huge variety of apprenticeship options available for people of all ages and backgrounds.

And one of the stars of the new campaign, which includes national TV and social media adverts and a new 'one-stop shop' website, is Sarah Eley, 54, from Cromer, who works as an apprentice nursing assistant in the ophthalmology department at Cromer Hospital.

In 2015, after more than 30 years of working in an office environment and feeling increasingly unfulfilled, she took up an apprenticeship at the age of 50. She swapped her position as a customer relations manager for a telecoms company to pursue her lifelong ambition to work in nursing.

Mrs Eley, a mother-of-one from Southrepps, near Cromer, who has worked at the hospital for four years, said: 'No-one thinks you can retrain for a new career in your 50s but I think I'm living proof that you can. I've done it.

'I applied for the nursing assistant apprenticeship scheme at Cromer Hospital and since doing it and working in the hospital I feel I am a happier person, I'm more fulfilled.

'I'm proud of what I have achieved and that's reflected in the reaction I get from the patients. It takes some guts to change career completely at that age but if it's something you are passionate about and care about – go for it.

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'The apprenticeship scheme gave me the opportunity to fulfil my dream and become a nursing assistant, something I had always wanted to do. And now I want to help others explore career options through apprenticeships.

'Although the money side of things is slightly less than I was earning before, the job satisfaction that I get from my work now is worth a lot more than wages.'

She is one of the video case studies on the campaign website and her story will be shared across the apprenticeship social channels.