An administration assistant who gained vital work experience and a helping hand onto the career ladder after signing up for an apprenticeship has encouraged others to follow his lead, saying: "I wish I’d done it earlier."Darren Howman joined Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust in December 2013, and spent around six months working as a business administration apprentice before using the experience he had gained to help him successfully apply for a permanent job.Now a Patient Safety and Complaints Administration Assistant, the 28-year-old has praised the help and support he received from colleagues during his apprenticeship, and urged others looking for a fulfilling career to consider taking the same route into the NHS."For me, the apprenticeship was an opportunity to join a really well-established employer which I had heard a lot of good things about," said Darren, who lives in Norwich. "I decided I would rather start at the bottom and work my way up in an organisation where I would be happy and would have a good chance of career progression."I really enjoyed the apprenticeship. I had a really great and supportive team around me, and was delighted when my application for a permanent role was successful."I would encourage anyone else thinking about an apprenticeship to go for it. For me, it was a risk as I was a little older, but I decided it was a risk worth taking and haven’t looked back since. It got me back on the career ladder – if I could go back and do an apprenticeship straight after leaving school, I would."Darren worked for an insurance company before joining the NHS, but lost his job around six months before the apprenticeship opportunity came up. And despite being offered two roles at the same time, he jumped at the chance of working for the Trust."This was the role I particularly wanted,” he added. "In terms of my future prospects, the NHS was the route to go down and it seems to have paid off."Maria Piper, Patient Safety and Complaints Administrator at the Trust, said Darren had made a great impact in the team since joining the Trust and encouraged other employers to think about taking on an apprentice."Darren has been a valuable addition to our team, both during his apprenticeship and as a permanent member of staff,” she said. “He is always willing to learn and play his part in improving the service which we provide. "I would encourage others to seriously consider employing an apprentice as it can result in benefits to both the organisation and the individual."