As a full-time A-Level student and part-time waitress, Lucy already knew that going to university was not the right fit for her.
Keen to start her career right after completing her A-Levels, Lucy started looking for other options and came across an apprenticeship at Intertek Pharmaceutical Services in Manchester. She quickly recognised that this route was the obvious choice for her as it offered a good balance of practical and theoretical work, whilst earning a salary at the same time. Without hesitation, Lucy applied as a Level 5 Technician Scientist as part of the new Cell and Gene Therapy team, in a new laboratory at Intertek.
The impact: Exposure to a wide variety of activities within the industry
Working as a Technician Scientist apprentice has offered Lucy a head-start in her career by gaining invaluable practical lab experience whilst working towards a degree. It has provided her with an opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills from her degree course and apply them directly in her workplace.
“I get involved with so many different projects with clients. I don’t just make brews for everyone! As an apprentice I carry out actual work, conducting stability testing for client’s drugs, such as testing the shelf life and storage conditions. The apprenticeship is really hands-on, which has grown my confidence way more with the practical skills in the workplace.”
In addition to the support and training programme set out by Intertek, the ATAC programme supported Lucy, as all apprentices on the programme, by offering complementary learning activities including site visits and networking events, from talks to Q&A sessions with industry experts that allow apprentices to speak directly with people from different organisations such as senior leaders, managers and other professionals.
The ATAC team and programme played an integral role in developing the collaborative relationship between apprentice, training providers and employer to deliver a successful apprenticeship programme. Through networking events, the ATAC programme gave Lucy the opportunity to widen the ‘scope of experience’, develop effective communication skills, grow confidence through professional interaction, and build relationships with colleagues from the wider advanced therapy industry. Through this exposure, Lucy was also able to learn from other people’s experiences and challenge existing processes and implement new innovative ideas.
“The company visits through ATAC have been good. I have also developed friendships through the community. The events held during National Apprenticeship Week were really inspirational, it really did put a pep in my step.”
Joining the apprenticeship programme has helped Lucy to gain professional and personal development. It has put her ahead in her career and given her a great advantage over those who take on a full-time university course, by allowing her to gain experience in the industry without accumulating any student debt. Most importantly, it has given her an enormous sense of achievement.
“One of my proudest moments so far has Intertek trusting me to deliver a client’s project, to GMP requirements, on my own. This has been a massive pat on the back and shows how much my manager trusts me.
I have often received surprised comments from people at work, that I am an ‘apprentice’. They have made comments after reflecting that there is no difference between me or the trained analysts. That’s really positive and breaking myths about apprentices.”
As well as bringing opportunities to the apprentices, the ATAC programme, through its networking and programme wide events has also brought value and opportunities for the company to gain fresh and valuable insights from experienced colleagues outside their organisations. Lucy mentioned:
“I would certainly say to any employer, to take a chance on recruiting an apprentice. You can train them to how you want them to perform and they will be an asset to your company!”
The next steps
Lucy would like to stay with the growing team at Intertek at the end of her programme and hopefully progress onto the Level 6 Laboratory Scientist apprenticeship.
About the Level 5 Technician Scientist apprenticeship
Technician scientists 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 is at Foundation Degree level and delivered through University of Kent for 36 to 40 months. Typical job roles may include: Analytical Support Chemist, Technical Support Scientist, Microbiology Support Scientist, Process Development Technologist, Laboratory Assistant, Senior Laboratory Technician, Technical Specialist, Quality Control Laboratory Assistant, Laboratory Coordinator, Technical Laboratory Assistant, Laboratory Analyst, Laboratory Research Assistant.
For further information, please visit the ATAC website.
The Intertek Pharmaceutical Services Laboratory in Manchester, UK, provides cGMP and GLP/GCP compliant characterization, stability, release testing and bioanalysis supporting development, regulatory submission and production.
For over 20 years, Intertek have helped the world’s most innovative pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies to navigate challenges of new product development, scale-up, manufacturing and market release. They provide a broad range of Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP), Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and Good Clinical Practice (GCP) compliant laboratory services to clients involved in the development and manufacture of pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals.