The Generation Hitchin event on the 21st October 2021 was coordinated by the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Amazing Apprenticeships to increase the awareness of apprenticeships as an accessible and rewarding career and learning opportunity. Held in Hitchin, within the cell and gene therapy cluster centred around Stevenage, the event was attended by government representatives, educationalists and students.
Speaking about the importance of apprenticeships as a fundamental part of the UK education and employment strategy, was the new Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, Alex Burghart MP, Sir Oliver Heald, MP for North East Hertfordshire and Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden.
Joe Camden, ATAC Project Officer who attended the event said:
“It was also excellent to hear such positive dialogue around apprenticeships and their value, not only from MP Afolami himself, but from his parliamentary colleagues. Certainly, it was great to hear that workplace apprenticeships are considered to be an excellent option and a strategic way forward for transforming, levelling up and modernising the UK workforce in the digital, post-pandemic, post-Brexit age.”
The well-attended event proved to be an invaluable opportunity to network and raise the profile of the local Advanced Therapies Medicinal Products (ATMP) industry to young STEM-minded talent and their interested parents that are deciding in which direction they want to focus, or even refocus their career through an apprenticeship.
The fact that the largest cluster of cell and gene therapy innovation and manufacturing activity is in and around nearby Stevenage means that the individuals located in the area are uniquely well-placed to play a leading role in the industry as it is set to grow significantly over the coming years.
Steve Stewart, Head of Skills at CGT Catapult commented:
“It was great to be able to speak and present to so many interested people keen to begin a career in STEM and to learn about the opportunities available in the ATMP industry through the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and ATAC. With year-round entry points, many people do not realise how flexible and accessible these apprenticeships are until they speak to us.”
A special thank you goes to Kate Barclay, who enthusiastically interacted with the participants and the honourable parliamentary guests with a virtual reality experience of the cleanroom environment at the Stevenage Manufacturing Innovation Centre. Providing a superb insight into the daily life of a lab-based apprentice, one guest hilariously became stuck in a virtual cupboard – ultimately proving the value and safety of VR training!
We extend our thanks from ATAC and the CGT Catapult to all the interested young people and parents that spoke with our team and to all those involved in the coordinating of this event, particularly the Hertfordshire LEP, Amazing Apprenticeships, Mr Bim Afolami MP and his colleagues.