Whether you’ve just earned your GCSEs or A levels, or you’re currently working, undertaking a chemistry apprenticeship is an excellent way to earn a degree-level qualification while making money and learning on-the-job. It can also be a great career move since apprentices are often hired as regular employees by the company they carried out their apprenticeship with, helping them get a strong foothold on what is a highly competitive ladder.
If you’re looking for a chemistry apprenticeship in the UK, there are a few key things you should be aware of, such as the different entry requirements and who are the most reliable apprenticeship providers in different parts of the country.
Chemistry Apprenticeship Providers
In the UK, the experience and educational requirements you’ll need to qualify for a chemistry apprenticeship program may vary from one place to another. This is because the four constituent countries (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) each have some regulatory differences, and companies are obligated to follow these according to where they are located.
Below, we’ve listed some of the top chemistry apprenticeship providers according to location. You can also search for a university that offers degree apprenticeships in partnership with private corporations or government agencies.
Some chemistry apprenticeship providers in England
- University of Bradford: Bradford University partners with various companies across different industries. Its distance learning curriculum in chemistry is designed to provide highly skilled graduates to companies that need qualified chemists. It offers blended learning through part-time attendance and a modular system. Companies can partner with the university if they want their employees to be trained in university-level chemistry and earn degrees. While apprentices will spend most of their time at work, they’ll also be required to occasionally report to the university to demonstrate their learning. Apprentices with non-standard qualifications are welcome to apply. Those who are over 21 years of age on entry are also welcome to apply, provided that they have relevant experience. However, applicants must be employed by a sponsoring organisation.
- GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK): GSK is a science-led healthcare company that operates worldwide, but is registered in England and Wales. It traces its history more than 300 years back, when Plough Court Pharmacy was established in London in 1715. It offers a wide range of chemistry apprenticeship programmes, including an apprenticeship in chemical engineering. The apprenticeship is focused on pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, products, and equipment. To qualify for the apprenticeship programme, you need to have at least five GCSEs or equivalent at grades A*-C (or 5-9).
- University of Greenwich, London: The chemistry apprenticeship programme offered by Greenwich is designed to provide candidates with a broad knowledge of chemistry, as well as competency in related practical skills for industrial applications. The degree apprenticeship combines on-campus training and on-the-job experience, allowing you to earn while you learn. A large portion of your development is provided by the employer, while the government provides subsidies for the tuition fees. The apprenticeship programme covers organic chemistry, instrumental analysis, and laboratory science. Graduates of this degree apprenticeship will qualify as laboratory scientists. What’s more, the Royal Society of Chemistry recognises the programme.
- University of Nottingham: This university offers a five-and-a-half year laboratory scientist apprenticeship in partnership with corporations and other employers. It’s meant to attract talented employees and give them access to high level knowledge and skills in chemistry. It’s also designed to train existing employees and recruit new applicants. The basic requirements are passing GCSE grades in both maths and English language, and A level grades of AAB-BBB, including a B in chemistry (or equivalent). Applicants must also have A pass in science practical tests.
Apprenticeship providers in Wales
- Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS): If you’re looking for chemistry apprenticeship programmes in Wales, you can use the specific UCAS page to find the most relevant ones. This website is regularly updated and it can help you find the right university or college and partner institutions.
- ATAC: The Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community offers apprenticeship opportunities for laboratory technicians in Wales. It includes opportunities for analytical support chemists, and the focus is on advanced therapy medicinal products.
- CareersWales.gov: If you’re searching for a more comprehensive source of information on chemistry-related apprenticeship opportunities, take a look through this resource. For an analytical chemist apprenticeship position, for instance, you should at least have experience as a laboratory technician in research and development. This position leads to managerial or supervisory positions.
Chemistry apprenticeship providers in Scotland
- EDF Energy: EDF is an energy company and is the largest producer of zero carbon electricity. It’s selected by the Scottish government to serve the country’s energy needs under the Scottish Procurement Framework. The company offers a three-year apprenticeship in chemistry. Graduates of the programme are fully qualified as chemistry technicians with HNC recognition and practical experience at EDF.
- University of Strathclyde: This university offers a BEng (Hons) degree in Chemical Engineering through its degree apprenticeship programme. It’s a degree programme aligned to the Science Industry Plant and Process Engineer Standard, or SIPPE standard.
Providers of apprenticeships in chemistry in Northern Ireland
- NIdirect.gov.uk: If you’re looking for an apprenticeship in chemistry, or related opportunities in Northern Ireland, refer to this NI government web page, which has useful resources that can help you in your search. Here, you can find higher level apprenticeships, including foundation degrees and honours degrees.
- BioPharmaChem Ireland: The apprenticeship opportunity offered by this company is for school leavers, career changers, and those who are looking for career advancement. It’s a three-year apprenticeship programme.
Applying for a Chemistry Apprenticeship
Chemistry apprenticeship degree programmes are usually offered to existing employees of a company in partnership with a university or college. They’re generally for those employees who want career progression. Some universities and colleges also offer apprenticeships to qualified applicants who meet their minimum requirements. These programmes are an excellent option if you’re currently employed but want to change careers, or if you’ve left school and have significant relevant experience.
If you’re looking for a chemistry apprenticeship opportunity, the first thing you need to do is find a university or college that offers the right programme for you. You can also apply to a company that has apprenticeship programmes in partnership with academic institutions – just make sure that you have the basic qualifications required.
Requirements may vary but generally, they include at least five GCSEs in chemistry, maths and/or science at grade C or above. Some companies require relevant on-the-job training. You may also need to take and pass a practical test in chemistry.
Chemistry apprenticeship programmes typically have blended distance learning options, giving you a lot of flexibility. While the majority of your time will be spent on the job, you’ll also need to occasionally report to the university for academic assessment and other requirements. Depending on the degree you want to earn, it may take three to five years to finish.
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