Apprenticeships - Science

Going to university and pursuing a degree is not the only option available to bright students. With the significant cost of a degree combined with its potential devaluation, you may want at least to consider your options. There are a number of firms offering very attractive School Leaver Programmes. These are well paid and you may find run parallel to many graduate schemes. They have the attraction of being less competitive at A level entry, therefore gaining you entry into an organisation that you may struggle to secure as a graduate, when the competition is fiercer. You will also be debt free. These schemes are becoming increasingly popular with employers.

Schemes include:

Science/Technology: GE Apprenticeships

geGE is a global Digital Industrial Company, transforming industry with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive and predictive. They offer Higher Apprenticeships. This allows you to work whilst also studting for a science degree. 

Science: AstraZeneca North West Apprenticeship Programme

medlmmune astrazencaAstraZeneca (MedImmune). MedImmune is AstraZeneca’s worldwide biologics research and development arm.  They are one of very few innovation-driven biopharmaceutical companies to span discovery, development, manufacturing, distribution and worldwide commercialisation.They develop ideas into life-changing medicines. They discover, develop, manufacture and market small molecules and biologics focused on three key areas – oncology; cardiovascular and metabolic diseases; and respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity.

They offer an opportunity to learn and work in a multi-national company alongside industry experts. Many of their apprentices go on to enjoy full- term positions both in their apprenticeship department and other areas of the business. As well as gaining valuable work experience, you will have the opportunity to study towards a professional qualification, depending on your chosen department.

About the programme

The North West apprenticeship programme starts annually in September and includes positions in the following areas at their Macclesfield and Speke sites:

  • Manufacturing - This 2 year apprenticeship offers plant-based learning with practical, on-the-job training. You will rotate between plants and different products, working alongside industry professionals to gain a broad experience of each department
  • Quality Assurance/Control - This 3 year apprenticeship is laboratory-based with a very practical emphasis on drug testing and sampling. Your role will be to ensure the drugs manufactured at the site are safe for consumption and comply with industry standards
  • Engineering - During this 4 year course, the first year will be based at a local college to give you the core knowledge of engineering; following college your final two years will be based at the site, working alongside a mentor to ensure plant functionality
  • Pharmaceutical Development - This 3 year apprenticeship will see you working alongside leading industry experts in laboratory surroundings to formulate and create life-saving medicines to be distributed around the world
  • Sourcing and Supply - Located in the logistics team, you will be working on a 2 year apprenticeship to ensure medicines reach their final destinations both in the UK and abroad, so patients receive the products they need
  • Project management - During this 3 year apprenticeship you will work directly with the project management team to help implement change, create new strategies and introduce innovative systems to all areas of UK operations.

Essential requirements

  • Enthusiastic individuals with a passion to learn
  • Two A-levels at grade C or equivalent
  • High aspirations and a desire to become part of a world-leading bio-pharmaceutical company

Science: GSK Higher Apprenticeships

glaxGSK (GlaxoSmithhKline) is a global pharmaceutical company. They have offices throughout the UK including Scotland. They offer a large number of Apprenticeship programmes, which include:

  • Pharmaceutical Technical  - The three-year Pharmaceutical Technical apprenticeship will provide you with the opportunity to gain knowledge about quality, engineering and manufacturing in the pharmaceutical industry. In this Higher apprenticeship programme you will work towards a foundation degree in Applied Chemical Science, through a combination of distance learning and college attendance. And if you show the qualities we are looking for, you may be offered the opportunity to go on to study for a full degree or Masters. The programme runs for three years at a number of manufacturing sites including Worthing and Montrose. You require:
    • A minimum of five GCSEs or equivalent at grade C or above, including at least a B in Maths and Science and a C in English language (not literature).
    • You must have or be expected to achieve 200 UCAS points from your top three A- Levels. Your A-Levels must include Chemistry.
  • Laboratory Apprenticeships - this will equip you with the skills and knowledge to tackle a variety of scientific challenges working in the R&D or manufacturing laboratories - the heartbeat of the company. The Higher apprenticeship will lead to a Foundation degree in Applied Chemical or Biological Science Technology. You require
    • A minimum 5 GCSEs A*-C including Maths, English Language (not literature) and Science or equivalent. 
    • Plus 96 UCAS points on the 2017 tariff including Chemistry and/or Biology and/or Applied Science depending on which apprenticeship you hope to study.
  • Business and Supply Chain Apprenticeships - During the apprenticeship you will gain insight into how products and goods are made and shipped including warehouse operations. You’ll also learn how to use and interpret supply chain data to organise raw materials and help plan and organise manufacturing and product delivery schedules. This three year higher apprenticeship programme offers you the chance to study towards nationally recognised qualifications while gaining valuable, paid work experience. As a Business and Supply Chain apprentice you will study towards a level 5 NVQ qualification. You require: 
    • 5 GCSEs A* to C including Maths and English Language (not literature)
    • Must also have/be predicted to achieve at least two A-Levels or equivalent at Grade E or Higher.
  • Health & Safety Apprenticeships - You will gain a solid foundation and comprehensive understanding of environmental legislation, health and safety in the workplace, change control systems and risk analysis. As you grow in your knowledge you will become responsible for safety auditing and risk reduction projects. This higher apprenticeship programme offers you the chance to study towards nationally recognised qualifications while gaining valuable, paid work experience. As a Health and Safety apprentice you will work towards an NVQ Level 4 qualification in Health and Safety and GSK will also sponsor you to complete a NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety, the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals. The programme runs for 4 yaers at worthing or Stevanage sites. You require:
    • A minimum of five GCSE grades or equivalent at grades A*-C or higher. Must include a Science subject and English language (not literature) at C or above plus Maths at B or above.
    • Must also have/be predicted to achieve at leeast two A-Levels or equivalent at grade E or higher.
  • Manufacturing Scientist Apprenticeships. As a Manufacturing Scientist apprentice you will work within the R&D pilot plant facilities where GSK manufacture oral solid dose (tablets and capsules) and respiratory drug products for clinical trials and other investigational purposes. This is in Ware in Hertfordshire. You will develop the skills and knowledge required to operate the systems and equipment that produce pharmaceutical products. You will work as a member of a team of manufacturing scientists, manufacturing drug products to a production schedule. During this Higher Apprenticeship, you will study for a Foundation degree (FdSc) in Chemical Science, via distance learning one day a week. To be eligible for our Manufacturing Scientist apprenticeship programme, you will need:
    • A minimum of five GCSEs or equivalent at grade C or above, including Maths, English Language (not Literature) and a science subject;
    • 96 UCAS points on the 2017 tariff including Mathematics and/or Chemistry and/or Applied Science.

Practice tailored psychometric tests similar to the ones used by GSK HERE.


Science: Medimmune Degree Apprenticeships

medlmmune astrazencaMedimmune.  MedImmune is the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca and are focused on three core therapeutic areas: Oncology; Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmune; and Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease. They also are opportunity-driven in Infectious Disease. They have a pipeline of only 120 research projects. They offer a number of degree apprenticeships, which are 3 years in length and include the following: 


  • Laboratory Scientist Degree Apprenticeship (Antibody Discovery)

  • Laboratory Scientist Degree Apprenticeship (Hybridoma Function)

  • Technician Scientist Degree Apprenticeship (Analytical Sciences)

  • Technician Scientist Degree Apprenticeship (Biopharmaceutical Development / Purification Process)

  • Technician Scientist Degree Apprenticeship (Bioassay Development)

  • Technician Scientist Degree Apprenticeship (Oncology)

  • Technician Scientist Degree Apprenticeship (RIA Biology)

  • Technician Scientist Degree Apprenticeship (Biopharmaceutical Development / Logistics & Clinical Supply)

  • Laboratory Scientist Degree Apprentice (Life Science - Antibody Discovery)

The roles vary but most involve lab based resaerch in a team. This is an amazing opportunity to work in industry-leading laboratories at the cutting edge of drug discovery. The positions are based in Cambridge. 


You need to possess 3 A levels (or equivalent), two of which must be in a science subject (ideally biology) at grade B or above.  Five GCSE’s at grade C and above including Mathematics and English (or equivalent). 

Science: National Nuclear Laboratory Scientific Apprenticeships

national nuclearNational Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) offer a scientific apprentieship. Its based in Sellafield, Cumbria. Scientific Apprentices perform a wide variety of roles. They are needed to test and calibrate equipment as well as undertake investigations and analyse samples. Scientific Apprentices are likely to work with hazardous substances, so it will be necessary for you to have a strong understanding of health and safety procedures and safe working practices. 

Your training

You will undertake an NVQ Level 3 in Laboratory Operations during your apprenticeship and attend Gen2 to study your Technical Certificate. You will study for the following qualifications:

  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma in applied Science
  • NVQ Level 3 in Laboratory and Associated Technical Activities
  • HNC in Applied Chemistry

Entry Requirements: ALevels, one of which must be Chemistry.

NNL also offer other apprenticeships in engineering design, project management, craft mechanical, craft electrical and business/admin.

Science: P&G Laboratory Science Apprenticeship

P&G offer Laboratory Science Apprenticeship based at The Gillette Technical Centre in Reading. It is home to around 100 scientists and engineers responsible for innovating consumer products for Gillette and Venus brands.  The centre is responsible for all the major innovations on these brands for the last 57 years and has a proud history of technical rigor, creativity and engineering excellence.  It boasts some of the best rapid prototype facilities in the company and a fully equipped engineering workshop to develop precision prototypes at a rapid rate. 

As a laboratory science apprentice you will:

- learn about scientific techniques to measure our products’ performance.

- conduct data analysis from the testing you have carried out, and identify trends and any errors, and reporting this data back to your supervisors.

- create/formulate chemistries for use whilst shaving

The duration of the apprenticeship is 24 months and successful apprentices will complete the programme with a Level 3 qualification in Laboratory Science.

Successful applicants will be based at our R&D site in Reading 4 days per week, with 1 day per week completing the BTEC part of the qualification at Farnborough College of Technology.

Science: Tata Steel Material Science Higher Apprenticeships

tatTata Steel offer a Material Science Higher Apprenticeship.  Its ideal for those who want to continue to learn, while gaining on the job, hands on experience in a post A Level (or equivalent) environment. You will work within the Technical function, which ensures that products meet and exceed customers’ exacting needs, both now and in the future. The roles are varied but the challenge is always the same: to develop and improve every grade of steel, so that it’s ready to meet the challenges of every possible application, from electrical use to aerospace and beyond.

You could find yourself working in quality assurance, laboratory management, non-destructive testing, metallurgical investigations and supply chain. Whilst there’s plenty of scope for independent working, you could just as easily find yourself in a customer-facing role, working alongside Commercial and Supply chain colleagues, liaising with Research & Development, or collaborating with Operational teams.

The Programme:

Year 1:  As a Paid Tata Higher Apprentice you will:

• study a Higher Education Academic Qualification (e.g. HNC in Environmental & Applied Chemistry);

• start an NVQ Level 4 in Advanced Manufacturing or Research & Development;

• undertake further training courses & projects.

Year 2 In your second year you will:

• complete your Higher Education Academic Qualification

• complete your NVQ Level;

• undertake further training courses & projects.

Requirements: To be considered for the Programme you will need to have 5 GCSEs or equivalent (including English, Maths & Science) at C Grade or above. You will also need to have two A Levels or equivalent, one of which must be Science, Technology, Maths or Business at C Grade or above

Science: Thames Water Chemistry Apprenticeship

Thames Water are offering Science Apprenticeships. 

You will join their science team where you’ll undergo a formal Level 6 apprenticeship in chemistry through workplace learning. You’ll work towards becoming a Laboratory Analyst or Research Scientist at the end of the programme, where you will continue to grow and develop you into the next generation of leaders. You’ll study for a degree in chemistry by day release at the University of Greenwich. You’ll get hands on experience 4 days a week and spend 1 day at Greenwich University a week gaining the theoretical background to your degree.

Whats involved?

This role is based in their labs in Reading, in the chemistry department. You’ll get hands-on experience in the preparation and analysis of samples, for the determination of chemical parameters. 

You’ll be using the latest technology in the field of analytical chemistry, including; Agilent GC & LC-MS, Thermo ICP-OES, Perkin Elmer ICP-MS, Skalar automation for physical chemistry analysis and Thermo Aquakem nutrient analysers. You’ll maintain and monitor method performance and system suitability and conduct trend analysis to identify and proactively address issues, minimising repeat analysis. 

Alternatively you may be based in the Research & Development (R&D) team. This team comprises engineers and scientists carrying our vital research and testing. As part of the team here you’ll need to have an interest in testing and analysis and a keen eye from problem solving and discovering solutions. 

What are they looking for?

Entry requirements for this Level 5 qualification are 5 GCSE’s grade C or above and 2 A Levels, Grade C or above (or predicted grades) to include Chemistry. A BTEC Level 3 in Applied Science will also be acceptable if you have not completed A-Levels. 

While qualifications are important, it’s also essential you have a passion for science and the drive and motivation to manage your learning and working life. You’ll need to be incredibly well organised, have excellent time management skills and the determination to succeed.  You’ll have great team working skills but also be able to work independently, putting customers at the heart of everything you do.   If you have a preference to work in the R&D team, a driving license is preferable.

Science: Unilever R&D Apprenticeships

unileverUnilever offer 2 R&D higher apprenticeships. You will actively contribute to the creation of great innovative products for consumers around the world. The opportunities allow you to put your science education, passion and curiosity into practice whilst gaining a BSc or BEng. The Unilever R&D Higher Apprenticeship aims to provide a pipeline of talent for the future needs of the business through a combination of workplace learning and higher education.

1. Chemistry: This apprenticeship is 4 years in length and based in the  Global R&D centre in Port Sunlight (Wirral). You’ll be part of a group of scientific and technical professionals whose innovations help millions of people look good, feel good and get more out of life.

  • Research and develop some of the world’s leading Unilever home and personal care brands.
  • Use your scientific or technical curiosity to improve how products work and appeal to consumers.
  • Interact and work with people from all over the world.

Entry Requirements

Typically three grade ‘B’ passes at ‘A’-level in relevant subjects although offers are made on the basis of interview performance

Qualification acheived

  • Level 4 certificate (HNC) in Chemistry
  • SIP accredited Smart Higher Apprenticeship certificate
  • BSc(Honours) in Chemistry (University of Liverpool)

2. R&D Refreshment: This offers you the opportunity to study for a BSc in Foods or Chemical Science and is 5 years in length. You will work at Unilever’s R&D site at Colworth to build and contribute to a number of brands including Lipton, PG Tips, Flora, Magnum, Cornetto and Dove. Over 600 scientists, technologists, legal professionals and support staff work at Colworth on a diverse range of activities.

Colworth is home to the Global Design Centre for Beverages and Ice Cream, Regional Deploy Centre for Beverages, Unilever Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, Discover and Critical Functions Capabilities such as Information and Technology for R&D.

Entry Requirements:

You need to have Sciences A-levels or equivalent at B grade or above (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and/or Maths).

You will be given one day per week during term-time to study; this can be used for a ‘day release’ method of study or as dedicated study for a distance learning programme.

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