Science Foundation Apprenticeships lead to exciting career paths

Three young people from East Lothian who completed a Science Foundation Apprenticeship last year have all now moved into modern apprenticeships within the science industry.

Nicole Ross, formerly a pupil at Dunbar Grammar School, successfully completed her foundation apprenticeship at SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) Vet Services and the experience and training she received has led Nicole to landing a sought-after job as a trainee technician with NHS Lothian Diagnostics team.

Adam Gillie, formerly a pupil at Ross High School undertook a foundation apprenticeship at Charles River laboratories, Tranent and has now secured a full-time position there and Lottie Thompson, formerly a pupil at Preston Lodge High School is working full-time in the Chemistry Department of the University of Edinburgh having completed her foundation apprenticeship there.

Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s and Family Services, Councillor Fiona Dugdale, said: “Foundation Apprenticeships offer wonderful opportunities for senior pupils to gain both training and work experience and I’m delighted to hear of these resulting in permanent jobs and the start of hopefully a fulfilling career. Council colleagues in East Lothian Works work closely with a range of local employers and schools to provide such opportunities and it’s so encouraging to hear how much the young people have valued the experience.”

The young people considered the opportunities provided by the Foundation Apprenticeships to be extremely beneficial in the development of their future careers.

Nicole Ross said: “The foundation apprenticeship taught me crucial base skills needed to progress in my career. Whilst on placement at SRUC Vet Services the team were patient and spent their time teaching me core lab skills in various departments which put me at such an advantage when applying for my current modern apprenticeship with NHS Lothian. Gaining hands-on experience in a lab through the foundation apprenticeship has helped me develop my skills significantly in the diagnostic labs. Having the opportunity to gain lab experience at such an early stage in my career has helped me with all aspects of the work and knowledge needed to succeed and continue to advance, and ultimately led to my full-time employment with NHS Lothian.”

Charlotte Thompson said: “The foundation apprenticeship programme was a great opportunity to develop skills in and around a science lab, learning from experienced technicians.  As a result of my foundation apprenticeship, I was offered a modern apprenticeship as a laboratory technician, in the chemistry teaching labs at Edinburgh University.”

Adam Gillie added: “The foundation apprenticeship programme gave me a real insight into working in a professional working environment, The apprenticeship allowed me to work in a real working environment using state of the art equipment as well as working with real scientists. The foundation apprenticeship helped me gain a full-time position in the Charles River company as an assistant technician through allowing me to showcase my skill set and also develop my skills along the way, this has set me up for a promising future in science and I would highly recommend the foundation apprenticeship to any young person looking towards a career in science.”

Employers have also recognised the value the Foundation Apprenticeships programme offer them within their workforce.

Dr Jennifer Thacker, Molecular Biology Laboratory Supervisor, SRUC, said: “SRUC Veterinary Services has been offering Foundation Apprenticeship placements for the past four years. For six months, students spend two afternoons a week in our Biochemistry, Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Serology laboratories. This provides an opportunity to work alongside experienced scientists, developing an understanding of the background theory to diagnostic testing, the necessary health and safety requirements and how to follow standard operating procedures.

“There is a large focus on gaining hands-on practical laboratory skills such as pipetting, accurate weighing of chemicals and the use of specialist test kits and lab equipment. It’s very rewarding for our teams to see students grow in confidence during the course of their placements and to know that the experience provided at SRUC has played a large part in some of our former students’ decisions to pursue a career in science.”

Young people interested in finding out more about Foundation Apprenticeships can contact East Lothian Works by email:

Published: Tuesday, 30th January 2024