Cameron was studying towards his A-Levels at Sixth Form, but quickly realised that the learning environment at Sixth Form was not the right fit for him. Despite having good GCSE grades, he found his preferred way of learning to be applying first-hand knowledge, skills and theory back into the job role.
By actively searching for alternative options to the traditional school to university route, Cameron discovered through the Gov.uk website the opportunities to study for a recognised qualification whilst remaining in the workplace. The blend of on-the-job training and off-the-job learning was exactly what Cameron was looking for and encouraged him to apply as a Level 3 Science Manufacturing Technician apprentice.
Once this apprenticeship was completed, with the help of ATAC, Cameron moved on to a level 5 apprenticeship with the university of Kent. This allowed him to further develop his skills within the workplace as well as his knowledge outside of it all whilst working towards a degree with no cost to himself.
The impact: A learning environment that nurtures an apprentice’s ambition
Through the ATAC apprenticeship programme, Cameron was given the opportunity to make a direct contribution to the company’s success and feel valued by being involved within the Quality Control team at Meira GTx. This role involves testing products to cure diseases such as Parkinson’s and dementia to ensure they are safe for the patient and delivering positive outcomes as quickly as possible.
“It’s been so interesting to be involved in the testing of such life changing products. We have had multiple days where we have met patients whose lives are changed by our products and to know that you play a small part in that is almost unbelievable’”
Furthermore, through the additional support and activities such as networking events and webinars organised by the ATAC programme to support apprentices in gaining wider industry knowledge, Cameron was able to find a new job in just 8 days when his previous company had to downsize.
“ATAC is the reason I was able to move on so quickly into a company that is a perfect fit for me. The support from the team from the moment I had to start looking was amazing and a real testament to the support they offer from start to finish.
The ATAC events have been brilliant too –I have been able to speak at a few already and spreading the message about apprenticeships is something I am passionate about due to the positive experiences I’ve had.”
The outcome: Enhanced skills and experience attained through working with an SME as an apprentice
By providing the partnership between Meira GTx and the University of Kent, ATAC has acted as a partner to this tripartite relationship, helping Cameron to maximise his potential for success in his apprenticeship and become industry-ready providing an environment where he could see how theory works in practice.
“Apprentices are supported and you are treated as a valuable member of the team. Experience is so important in industry and university just can’t compete with apprenticeships in that regard.”
Joining the apprenticeship course has given Cameron the opportunity to gain the same qualification as if he had decided on a Sixth Form course with the advantage that this one was without any debts but instead being paid a salary and working alongside experts in the industry.
ATAC has also been instrumental in providing the additional support that apprentices need by helping apprentices acclimatise to their new workplace, building their confidence in working with senior members of the company, offering advice to apprentices on how to handle apprenticeship matters with their manager, and providing a better understanding of the Apprenticeship programme.
“Studying at the University of Kent is an experience I never could’ve imagined when I was struggling in sixth form. Now I am completing my degree with them and working at the same time, with no fees.”
The next steps
“Once my degree is completed I aim to get promoted to the role of senior scientist at Meira GTx and start a Level 6 Management apprenticeship with the aim of becoming a manager and being instrumental in the hire of further apprentices at Meira GTx.”
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 >250 apprentices employed across >50 UK companies, and the initiative continues to provide a platform for developing industry innovators of the future.