Apprenticeships tailor skills to the needs of a business

The University of Kent leads the way as one of the UK’s top institutions for many fields of study. At the Centre of Higher and Degree Apprenticeships we tailor programmes of study to complement activity in the workplace of employers nationwide and of all sizes.

Our growing team offer full support for anyone interested in taking on an apprenticeship in their organisation. The benefits are far and wide to both the apprentice and the employer:

  • Existing staff development
  • Workplace diversity, motivation and commitment
  • Increased specific knowledge and skills
  • Gain a leading edge with fresh ideas and techniques
  • Boosting career prospects for individuals

Currently we specialise in apprenticeships in Chartered Management, Applied Bioscience, Chemical Sciences and Senior Leadership. Apprenticeships in development include Clinical Trials Specialist, Advanced Clinical Practitioner, Professional Economist and Social Worker.

  • Technician Scientist Higher (level 5)
  • Laboratory Scientist Degree (level 6)
  • Chartered Manager Degree (level 6)
  • Senior Leader Master’s Degree (level 7)
  • Professional Economist Degree (level 6)
  • Clinical Trials Specialist Degree (level 6) – subject to final approval
  • Advanced Clinical Practitioner Degree (level 6) – subject to final approval
  • Commercial Procurement & Supply Certificate (level 4) – subject to final approval
  • Social Work Degree (level 6) – subject to final approval
  • Junior Management Consultant Certificate (level 4) – subject to final approval

Apprenticeships offer businesses and their employees the chance to improve skills and enhance motivation. Emma and Ed from Centauri Therapeutics offer an insight into the world of apprenticeships from both the employer and employee point of view.


Interview with Apprentice

What’s your name and role here?

My name is Ed, I am a level 5 apprentice at Centauri Therapeutics and I work in the Micro Biology Department.

Tell us a little about your apprenticeship?

I’m doing the level 5 biosciences, studying a range of things, currently human physiology and disease and then also doing the work based learning. Mostly I do microbiology but I also do a range of things with the company.

What have your experienced so far?

It’s been really good, I’ve been with the company for just over 3 years so I started in 2015. When I started I was in molecular biology and now I’ve moved onto microbiology which is what I predominately do.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship over anything else?

So I had just done my A levels and left school and had applied to University, I had a friend who had just started an apprenticeship and I was really interested in the work based learning. I did OK in my A Levels but wanted to do something a bit more hands on, so it’s really worked well.

What do you like most about your apprenticeship?

The work based learning and new techniques. The studying is really good as well, I find being able to do it in my own time and link it back to work has benefited me really well.

How do you feel about the balance between your work and your study?

It’s really good, I have one day a week here studying which is usually a Friday which works well. Everyone leaves me here to study and if I have any questions about assignments and things I can ask, the University of Kent are also really good as I can go and ask them about anything.


How has the study helped with your day to day role?

Massively, I did a level 3 originally which was really the basics and I’d studied at A Level so I wanted to do the higher stuff so starting the degree has really helped me as there are so many subjects I do here. It was quite hard to grasp what some of the other scientists are talking about but now when doing modules they link in really well. The study has especially helped with the ‘In the Work Place’ assignments, they are really good as you can go back and make it relevant from what you’ve just learnt.

What has surprised you most from being an apprentice?

Probably how much I can achieve academically from learning hands on, so I got mostly distinctions the last 2 years and now I’m hoping to get them again this year. That’s something I like doing – being able to achieve a degree this way has been really good.

What would be your advice to others considering an apprenticeship?

Just go out there and look at the different things, find out about apprenticeships and apply for them. I wasn’t really sure about going away and spending lots of money, I just wanted to get into work and learn new things, so just get out and look.

What do you hope to do once you have completed the apprenticeship?

I definitely want to stay on at Centauri full time, I’d like to do a Masters then possibly a PhD, I’ve heard they might be offered as an apprenticeship which would be great.


Interview with Employer

What’s your name and role here?

My name is Emma Leire and I’m the Lead Micro Biologist here at Centauri Therapeutics.

Tell us a little about the apprenticeships here at Centauri?

So we are a small biotech company and we had an apprenticeship join us at the very beginning. To start with he was helping out with little things in the lab, ordering materials and stocking up the inventory. As he moved through the training he’s become a really important member of the team. He is now planning his own experiments, presenting data to the team, running alongside people who have trained in a different way, it’s been really good.

What made you decide to employ an apprentice?

We already have some experience within the company with employees who have gone through a similar training within a large pharmaceutical’s company. We know the value of someone who started as a junior scientist who has trained up through the company. In the end they have all the skills you really need and also being a growing company it’s exciting to have a young scientist join you getting the skills you desperately need to become a key member of your team in the end.

How much input do you have in the apprenticeship as an employer?

At the beginning, we needed to understand a little more about how it worked and what we needed to do, but actually now our apprentice is handling most of his interaction with the University so we don’t need to. The modules are very well organised, he has one day a week where he focuses on his studies, the rest of the time he’s is a full-time employee. It’s not a lot of extra work for us as an employer aside from giving him one day a week to do his studies.

What’s the best thing about employing an apprentice?

You get to see someone grow at work, from not knowing a lot to running their own experiments. It’s hard to find someone with exactly the skills that you need so the great thing about an apprenticeship is that you can train them in a specific area so you are tailoring a person’s skills to your area of work.

Can you describe how your apprentice has contributed to your business?

As we’ve grown we’ve needed very specific expertise and unique skills so where he has been with us throughout that process it means he has the right skills. It’s also exciting to see someone else excited about your work.

Any surprises on your experience as an employer?

No it’s been well organised in terms of different modules of study, our apprentice has been great at telling us what he needs in terms of studying so he can complete the course. I’ve been very happily surprised with how things have worked so no surprise.

What advice would you give employers looking to take on an apprentice?

Some employers might think it takes a lot of time which it did in the beginning, however when you hire in new staff you need to do this anyway. Having an apprentice start means they can really grow and develop within the company which I think is a huge benefit, he is now one of the employees who knows all the assays in the lab the best as he’s being setting up a lot of the experiments as part of his training.

As a business what is the value added by employing an apprentice?

To help someone grow within their skillset is really important not only for us as business but for the Kent community and to know he could either work with us or go elsewhere and he will have all of that industry training with him, good for if he stays here or moves on somewhere else.


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