Our Higher Apprenticeship launched a couple of years ago now and our current apprentices have shared their experiences here. Have a look and find out more.
Charlie - Year 4 of the programme
Why did you apply?
I applied to get into a lab job. I struggled to go to uni with it being so expensive. Applying gave the opportunity to get into a laboratory job at an entry level and study towards my degree as well.
It's great because I earn money, I have no student debt and I get to play on all the kinds of experimental lab equipment that you'd never get to see at uni. I get to do all that every day while I study for my degree on the side.
Balancing work and life
When I started I was doing about 20 hours of study a week alongside full time work, so Thames Water give me an afternoon off every week to do my own study, as well as doing study in my own time. Some weeks are tougher than others but overall I'm able to balance it out well.
Why an apprenticeship instead of Uni
Fees are expensive and here I get paid to do what I love. My main issue with uni was being able to afford my way through but here I get paid to study, I get to play with the kind of equipment you don't usually see in a university lab, and access to a level of training you just wouldn't get at uni. To me this means that by the time I complete my degree I'll be well ahead of those that have gone through the university route, because I’ve been paid for the training and have had efficient training to already be in the workplace.
What do you do on a daily basis?
Day to day I work in the metals team. I do lots of prep and we have rota to do abstraction and digestion samples. I get to pour and prepare the batches, as well as running them on the lab instruments and then process the data.
Advice to applicants
Don't be fooled into this being an easy route, compared to university. The pros are salary and paid qualifications but there is a lot of commitment involved. It will be a big part of your life for the next three years with 20 hours study per week. You do get so much experience that helps count towards your degree here in the labs but you have to really cram lots of practical activity into different areas.
Tom - Year 3 of the programme
Why did you choose an apprenticeship over university?The reason I chose an apprenticeship over university is because I wanted to go straight into the profession. I wanted to learn whilst I was studying which I think is beneficial because I can progress whilst I’m here.
Work/life balanceIt can be tough and sometimes you have to make sacrifices but if you are passionate about chemistry and you have the drive and Will to learn and progress in the workplace at the same time it's not so bad and it really works out better in the long run.
Day to dayOn a day to day basis you aren't treated any differently to the regular analysts here. You come in, you're trained on a multitude of methods, and you’re trusted to work by yourself and complete methods from start to finish. Once you've been here for a while you have the opportunity to become a trainer and train others coming into the business which can be really rewarding. It's a great place to work and a really good environment.