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Upskill apprenticeships prove it's always a good time to learn

Picture an apprentice. What do you see? Is it the stereotype of a school leaver, or maybe a college leaver? No doubt you see someone in their teens at the very start of their career. And you’d be right, we have lots of apprentices who fit this description. But look a little closer and you will see that apprenticeships aren’t just for the teenagers – they can work for people at different levels in their careers.

STFC offers ‘upskilling’ apprenticeships to existing staff who are looking to update their skills set or are maybe looking to move their career in a new direction. Currently 35 STFC colleagues are undertaking an upskill apprenticeship in areas as diverse as product design, computing and even management.

Two colleagues, both based at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory site, recently completed Level Four Project Management upskill apprenticeships and they spoke to us about why they decided to develop their careers in this way.

From communications to project management: Karen Lee, Head of Impact, the Hartree Centre

“I am not what many people would ‘see’ when they think of an apprentice. I’m a working mum balancing a sassy four year old and a fairly senior role.

“I graduated from university with a degree in marketing and public relations around this time 17 years ago. Since then, I have worked in related jobs at several organisations, working my way up from assistant to managing communications teams in a couple of STFC departments.

“After maternity leave, I had the opportunity to change direction; taking my transferrable skills in stakeholder management and communication and using them to help evidence to government why they should fund the research and innovation that we do (we help UK organisations to use supercomputers, big data and artificial intelligence to improve what they do and create new products/services). It was a huge change, and I needed a more structured way of thinking and learning this new craft – and that was when I heard that STFC offered professional apprenticeships. I took on a Level Four Project Management Associate apprenticeship in summer 2019 and am pleased to say that I have now passed with distinction.

“I really can’t overstate how amazing it’s been to get my brain into ‘learning’ mode again. This apprenticeship has enabled me to challenge myself, and broaden my career horizons, whilst getting an officially recognised qualification (you get the chance to take the APM’s Project Management Qualification). Wherever you are in your career, an apprenticeship could make a big difference.”

Keeping skills and knowledge fresh: Liz Kennedy, PA to the Director of the Cockcroft institute

“I’ve been with STFC for 30 years, starting as an admin assistant and moving through various departments until I became the PA for the Director of the Cockcroft Institute 14 years ago when the institute was created. I now support the staff and students in the institute as well as working very closely with STFC colleagues and our university partners.

“I decided that I needed to think about how I could progress my career and keep my skills up to date, and the Level Four Project Management apprenticeship was the ideal way to learn while I carried on working.

“The course has been really interesting, and I could see where the difference knowledge areas could be applied to event organisation – a bit part of my role. It has also taught me new leadership skills which I can apply and has enabled me to better demonstrate my collaborations with stakeholders.

“I put a lot of work into this apprenticeship and there were challenges along the way – not least having to go through the end point assessment during lockdown. However, I was determined to see it through and am very proud of completing it with a merit.”

STFC recently won the Institute of Physics award for Large Apprentice Employer of the year award and we offer apprenticeships across the organisation in a wide variety of disciplines.

For more information, please visit the STFC careers website.


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Last updated: 07 January 2021

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Science and Technology Facilities Council
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