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National Apprenticeship Week 2019

Apprenticeships tailor skills to the needs of a business

What’s your name and role here?

My name is Emma Leire and I’m the Lead Microbiologist 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.

It’s hard to find someone with exactly the skills that you need. You can train [an apprentice] in a specific area, so you are tailoring a person’s skills to your area of work.

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. 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.

Click here to learn more about higher and degree-level apprenticeships with the University of Kent.

by Amanda Broderick, Business Development & Marketing Officer, Centre for Higher and Degree Apprenticeship, University of Kent

February 2019

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