To celebrate National Apprenticeships Week 2021, we are bringing you a series about STEM apprenticeships with interviews from industry experts. Today it’s the turn of training provider CSR Scientific Training.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths and it covers a broad range of industries and careers. For example, Healthcare, Space exploration, Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology and Chemical engineering are all STEM fields. There are many different ways you can access a STEM career, but today we are here to talk about how apprenticeships are an excellent choice for anybody interested in STEM.
Recently, employers have described vast skills gaps when trying to recruit for STEM roles. Many young people are leaving university with the academic knowledge needed for a career in STEM but without the practical skills needed to do the job.
Over the last year, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the many essential roles in science and healthcare into focus. Now more than ever before, we must prepare the next generation of STEM employees for whatever challenges are thrown their way, with the necessary skills and knowledge.
Sophie Legge is an Associate Practitioner in Pathology with the NHS and is working in a team that are testing for Covid-19. She completed a Laboratory Technician Apprenticeship with The National Physical Laboratory before studying a degree in Biological Sciences at The University of Surrey.
She says “I am proud to say we have been named the no.1 Point of Care Covid-19 testing team in England. We managed to set up the service within three weeks and are currently running over 100 patient tests a day.”
CSR Scientific Training
CSR Scientific Training are the UK’s leading apprenticeship training provider of apprenticeships in the scientific and healthcare sector. They have been delivering high-quality training for the last ten years and work with some of the UK’s leading scientific and healthcare organisations. Their vision is to bring education and industry together so we can all live in a safer, healthier world.
We are so pleased to have been able to talk to Sally Williams from CSR Scientific Training about STEM apprenticeships. She told us about how apprenticeships have a real impact on healthcare, the changing landscape for women in STEM, and why we should be paying more attention to the ‘S’ in STEM. Have a read of our full conversation below:
A chat with Sally Williams, Head of Strategic Partnerships and SMEs
Firstly, let’s start simple, why do you think apprenticeships are a good route into STEM?
“Science is such a broad sector if you enjoyed learning about science at school and the practical applications but are unsure about what kind of career you might like to embark on an apprenticeship. It is a great way to learn more about yourself and what you enjoy. You can see the type of work you would be involved with in a laboratory setting.”
Traditionally young people accessed STEM careers through university, that seems to be changing slightly. What do you think are the advantages of doing a STEM apprenticeship vs a university route?
“Our apprentices are working on projects that are saving lives and having a real impact on the health and well-being of the population in the UK. The jobs these learners are employed to do have meaning and purpose.”
“Plus, they get to learn from experts in their field; they learn by doing real work and using their hands. Alongside that they are also gaining a qualification, you can now gain a scientific degree via the apprenticeship route. And on top of everything you get paid a salary. No University debts plus the majority of apprentices that finish our programmes get offered jobs by their host employer.”
We would like to ask you a little bit about women in STEM, is it true that STEM is an entirely male-dominated field? And what are CSR doing to promote gender equality in STEM?
“The landscape has changed significantly in the last few years, our current apprenticeship ratio shows us we have 55% females and 45% males engaged with science apprenticeships. There are many great female scientific role models out there who are inspiring the next generation.”
“We find those strong female voices who are involved in world-leading research to engage the younger generation, to inspire them and to enable them to believe that they too can have a meaningful career. I would give the same message to any young women interested in STEM as I would to any young man: If you are curious, have great attention to detail, enjoy learning, reading about scientific discoveries, working with clever people who genuinely want to make the world a better place, then a career in science could be perfect you.”
Finally, before you go, can you tell us about your small S in STEM campaign and why it’s important?
“We are trying to raise awareness of laboratory and scientific apprenticeships. Traditionally, parents, careers advisors believed that to have a career in science, you must go to University and gain a degree, but this is not the case.”
“Laboratory roles are not as well-known as the traditional engineering or business pathways. The good news is there is funding available at the moment for a laboratory to take on a lab-based apprentice very easily.”
Thank you so much to Sally Williams and CSR Scientific Training for talking to us and sharing your wisdom. If you are interested in a STEM apprenticeship with CSR, have a look at their website for what they have to offer. You can also find some of their apprenticeships up on our apprenticeships board.