The double award winning Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community (ATAC) is the first apprenticeship programme designed specifically to train and upskill individuals in developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative therapies at scale.

Advanced therapies have the potential to address significant and growing unmet healthcare needs. They offer the promise of treating and altering the course of diseases which cannot be addressed adequately by existing pharmaceuticals. The UK is at the leading edge of this disruptive industry and there is an opportunity to build a large-scale industry delivering health and wealth.

Underpinning the success of the industry and fuelling growth are the skills needed to develop, manufacture and deliver these innovative therapies. As the industry grows and companies progress towards manufacturing and delivery, more new and unique skills are required than what is currently available – and recruitment and retention of these individuals is becoming increasingly challenging, limiting growth. You can access the UK Cell and Gene Therapy Skills Demand Report 2021 for further information on anticipated industry growth and skills.

Responding to the recommendations of the Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Taskforce, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) was awarded £1.5 million by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to establish the Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community (ATAC), and further follow-on funding of £0.5m in 2021. The purpose of the community is to create a ready supply of skilled talent ranging from manufacturing operatives to technical experts and researchers to fuel the growth of the UK advanced therapies industry. Following the success of ATAC, a further £4.7m was received to establish the Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN) to assist upskilling and cross skilling to support wider sector growth.

In 2022, ATAC has been the proud recipient of two awards – the Princess Royal Training Award in August, and the industry nominated and voted for BioIndustry Association (BIA) Richard Wilson Impact Award in November. Both awards are the testament to industry pioneers, funders and of course the amazing apprentices themselves. We now have >280 apprentices across 17 programmes, from over 50 UK employers.

CGT Catapult continuously works with industry to develop a series of bespoke apprenticeship standards and continuing professional development programmes that train and upskill individuals to develop, manufacture and deliver advanced therapies at scale.

Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community explained

Find out more about how and why our programmes have been created, and the impact our community is making.


What are they?

An apprenticeship allows an individual to combine work and study by mixing on-the-job training with formal learning. Providing a fantastic opportunity to improve their career prospects, whether at the start of their career, or expanding their skills and experience within the workplace. For employers, apprenticeships offer a number of benefits including overcoming skills shortages, retention and attracting new talent.

An apprenticeship is made up of several components that are put together to create a ‘standard’, which, when complete, demonstrates occupational competence within the studied area. An apprenticeship programme structure will be a mixture of competencies and skills, knowledge, behaviour and transferable skills. This is a recognised route to show occupational competence.

How long do they take?

The duration of an apprenticeship is outlined within its standard. The actual time scale for completion will be set out in the apprentices individual learning plan (ILP) once formally enrolled with a recognised training provider; considering any prior experience and learning. Apprenticeships are a minimum of 12 months typically for an intermediate (level 2) programme and can be up to five years for higher (level 4 and 5) and degree (level 6 and 7) apprenticeships.

Types of apprenticeship

There are various levels ranging from level 2 up to level 7. Across all levels, apprentices work towards work-based learning to demonstrate occupational competence or skills, knowledge, behaviour and functional skills. An overview of the levels and equivalencies are:

Level 2 programme

Equivalent to 5 GCSE passes at grades A* to C or grades 9 to 4

Level 3 programme

Equivalent to 2 A Level passes

Levels 4 and 5 programmes

Equivalent to a HNC (for Level 4) or HND or a Foundation Degree (for Level 5)

Levels 6 and 7 programmes

Equivalent to a Bachelor’s Degree or Postgraduate Diploma (Level 6) or a Master’s Degree (Level 7)

How are they structured?

The programme of an apprenticeship requires five aspects to be successfully completed. This may vary depending on the standard being completed, therefore the actual structure and the assessment methods used will differ. The actual structure would therefore be discussed with the apprentice, once formally enrolled on the programme with the chosen registered training provider and end-point assessment organisation.


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The competence/skills part is made up of several elements; each describes activities that the apprentice will need to demonstrate at work. The apprentice must be competent in all criteria before being signed as complete. To show that the apprentice can demonstrate the standard requirements, they may be required to gather a portfolio of evidence. The training provider will discuss what can be used as evidence throughout the programme and to achieve the end-point assessment.

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This section is made up of different elements and may reflect the competence and theoretical understanding. This enables the apprentice to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and understanding to carry out the work to the level required and why this is required, as outlined within the apprenticeship standard and by their employer. Taught lessons from a training provider may be a requirement for this part.

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The apprentice will be required to show that they exhibit certain behaviours. Each standard will detail the types of behaviours that will be assessed, such as a range of communication skills, teamwork, autonomy and time management.

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The apprentice will need to achieve functional skills if they do not hold GCSE (or equivalent) grades at A* to C or grades 9 to 4 in English and mathematics. This is done by demonstrating competence, collecting evidence and/or by passing external examinations. Apprentices may be exempt from completing these functional skills if they hold relevant GCSEs or any other relevant qualifications. The training provider will assess the support needed for this at the start of the programme.

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Within every apprenticeship standard, there is an EPA that must be achieved to complete the programme. Each standard has an EPA plan, which details the assessments that will be independently undertaken towards the end of the apprenticeship. The EPA can be found on the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) webpage.

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