About Annabel

Annabel Stewart has recently received the Foundation Apprentice of the Year 2021 award from Skills Development Scotland after having completed a Foundation Apprenticeship in Scientific Technologies which has landed her a career at Charles River Laboratories (CRL) as an Assistant Technician. Driven by her passion for environmental science, Annabel has now joined the Advanced Therapy Apprenticeship Community (ATAC) to do a Modern Apprenticeship in Life Sciences to take on the next level of building her knowledge and skills and advancing her profession.


Retaining talent and creating jobs tailored to newly acquired skills

When asked what made her choose to do a second apprenticeship, Annabel replied:

“Apprenticeships are such an incredible experience to gain qualifications. I intended to go to university when I first started the Foundation Apprenticeship (FA) but afterwards, I’ve been given the opportunity to stay with Charles River Laboratories and progress onto the Modern Apprenticeship (MA).”


Annabel also highlights that

“others should really consider the opportunities available. You shouldn’t just expect to go to university as the next step. My parents and teachers were really supportive of me doing the FA, my school friends didn’t really understand what I was doing initially. They thought that I was just having extra time out of class compared to them. They have now seen what I have achieved as a result.

“The apprenticeship gave me the ability to work in an adult environment whilst being supported by my school, I developed time-management, organisational skills, communication as well as my confidence in my abilities, fundamental chemistry knowledge and practical lab skills. It gave me career opportunities and the confidence to choose the path that worked best for me rather than assuming I had to go to university and get a degree to get into science when I knew I wanted to jump right into full-time work.

My apprenticeship [also] allowed me to build contacts with high up members of the company, this allowed me to have meetings and conversations with them where they were able to create a job role tailored to my qualifications to give me the opportunity to work full time in my department.”


The opportunity to progress further

Annabel is now completing her second apprenticeship and studying towards the Modern Apprenticeship (MA) in Life Sciences. She will be starting her HNC within the MA in August this year.


About the Modern Apprenticeship in Life Sciences

Modern Apprentices in Life Sciences carry out laboratory-based investigations and scientific experimentation using established instrumentation techniques and a range of routine and specialised skills following well established principles associated with an organisation’s science and technology in Advanced Therapies. They work as part of a wider scientific team, which may include laboratory scientists and laboratory technicians, in settings where there is certainty and with limited ambiguity taking personal responsibility for decision making in routine predictable contexts.

This programme includes two qualifications, SCQF Level 7 in Applied Bioscience and SVQ Level 3 and Core Skills. This is delivered through Forth Valley College for 24 to 36 months. Typical job roles may include:  Laboratory Technician, Microbiology Support Scientist, Process Development Technologist, Laboratory Assistant, Technical Specialist, Quality Control Laboratory Assistant, Laboratory Analyst, Laboratory Research Assistant.

About Charles River Laboratories

Charles River provides products and services to help expedite the discovery, early-stage development and safe manufacture of novel drugs and therapeutics.

Stephen Madden, Director, Regulatory ADME and Discovery Sciences, explains:

“Modern Apprenticeships have proven to be a really useful program for Charles River Laboratories to both attract new talent into the company (typically school leavers or people looking for a career change) and to upskill existing team members to help open up career progression opportunities for them.  In the past year we have seen a huge increase in the interest in apprenticeship programs and now have Modern Apprentices working in teams across all of our Laboratory Sciences functions and we fully expect this to continue in the coming years.  Partnering with ATAC has been hugely beneficial to us as we have seen this increase in uptake across the business, they have helped smooth our interactions with the colleges delivering the training, they provide extracurricular activities for our Apprentices and we get the added value of being active members of a much broader apprenticeship community that is much more able to influence the service providers that we rely on for the successful delivery of the apprenticeship programs.”

Supported by the Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community (ATAC)

Advanced therapies apprentices enjoy access to a wide variety of support provided by ATAC including:

  • Access to learning resources and technical webinars from industry experts
  • Optional cohort days for apprentices from different organisations to meet, share their experiences and collaborate
  • Advice for professional development, such as presenting and networking
  • Membership to a network of apprentices, employers, and training providers across advanced therapies
  • Access to the ATAC App for further information, resources, community connections and more!


Developing skills and employability for the future

ATAC has prioritised a range of programmes, from entry-level to Master’s-equivalent apprenticeships, to bring in new talent and upskill staff for the rapidly growing UK cell and gene therapy industry. The number of ATAC apprentices more than doubled in one year, now standing at 136 apprentices employed across 36 UK companies, and the initiative continues to provide a platform for developing industry innovators of the future.