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STFC and Diamond Light Source Apprenticeship Day 2017

30 August 2017

Members of the public bein shown equipment by an apprentice

(Credit: Simon Cooper)

On 23 August 2017, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and Diamond Light Source hosted an Apprenticeship Day at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Didcot, Oxfordshire.

The well-attended event brought together potential apprentices - aged 14 and over - who came to learn about the wide variety of opportunities offered by both organisations.

Students and their parents were invited to a day of presentations, tours of the facilities and hands-on activities, provided by representatives including ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, RAL Space and Diamond Light Source, which included both ex- and current RAL apprentices.

STFC’s National Apprenticeship Scheme Manager, Helen Johnson, summarised the impact of the day, “The event allowed people considering apprenticeships to meet others who have chosen this path and get a taste of the world-class science being carried out at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory”, explains Helen.

An apprentice and a member of staff playing with some equipment

(Credit: Simon Cooper)

“It generated lots of questions and we hope to have provided inspiration for STEM apprenticeships in Oxfordshire. If we’ve even sent a few people away at the end of the day who are seriously considering an apprenticeship, then it’s a job well done!”

Upon arrival, attendees were given a series of inspiring talks; providing an overview of the apprenticeship scheme and its providers, a glimpse into life as an apprentice and a presentation on future career paths. The audience was then split into smaller groups who went on to spend half of the day exploring ISIS, Diamond and RAL space, whilst the other half was spent in the RAL visitor centre, where staff had set up a range of activities to get stuck into, reflecting the breadth of engineering conducted, and state of the art technology developed, on site. Visitors got to take action shots using a timeslice camera and have their faces scanned by a laser, amongst other exciting activities.

Concluding talks at the end of the day sought to inspire, educate and inform aspiring apprentices within the audience as to the logistics of the application process and provided helpful advice on the skills and attributes needed to secure a place on the scheme.

A member of staff talks to members of the public about some of the equipment on show

(Credit: Simon Cooper)

Visitors to the event remarked that they received a “friendly, welcoming reception” throughout the day, during which emphasis was placed on the work-life balance at STFC and Diamond, as well as promoting the high level of support for both personal and academic growth, provided by mentors and technical professionals. Not only will successful candidates be contributing to exciting cutting-edge projects on the scheme, they will also be given the opportunity to take part in overseas placements, attend social events and undertake organised activities such as an outdoor learning team-building week.

A key message of the day was highlighted by Matt Fletcher, Design Division Head at ISIS, during the final presentation of the day, who told the audience “We are just like you, just older.”

Indeed, a finer phrase could not have been used to put potential candidates at ease; interviewers are not looking for perfection; they just want to see hard-working, motivated individuals with a passion for engineering, who want to make a real-world difference to people’s lives and the environment around us.

Next steps – Dates for the diary

  • February 2018: Applications open
  • March 2018: Open Evenings
  • April 2018: Assessment centre and interviews
    (Successful candidates will be informed by end of April 2018)
  • September 2018: New apprentices join us

For further information about the Apprenticeship Scheme, please visit the Apprenticeship Training Scheme page.

Vacancies will be advertised on the STFC careers site.
(Click on UKSBS search and register for alerts)

About the Apprenticeship Training Scheme

Apprentices being shown around the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source

(Credit: Simon Cooper)

Are you aged over 14 and interested in a career in engineering?

From building particle accelerators to testing satellites, our engineers and technicians make science happen.

STFC and Diamond Light Source offer four-year apprenticeships in electrical, electronic, mechanical and software engineering. The first year is spent at college, where apprentices learn practical skills, such as machining, welding, electronic and electrical wiring, with one day a week dedicated to academic study.

On the job training is provided in years 2-4, with apprentices working on various experiments.

Apprentices graduate with a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ), a Higher National Certificate (HNC) and/or a Higher National Diploma (HND).

Alternatively, STFC also offers Computing and IT apprenticeships for those who want a career in software development or systems administration.


Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Lisa Faircloth
+44 (0)1235 445857

Daresbury Laboratory
Trudi Symes
+44 (0)131 668 8268

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000