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Grow and develop with a GSK apprenticeship

PICTURED: Natalie

DURING SIXTH form, I knew I wanted to do engineering, so I considered both apprenticeships and university. University in some ways was the safer option as there was a lot more support and information about it. I also have an older sister who went to university, so I was aware of what to expect. However, I felt that an apprenticeship would outweigh the benefits of going to university for me, as I’d be able to simultaneously experience the world of work and get the qualifications I needed.

My parents weren’t very sure about an apprenticeship, mostly because they didn’t know what it would involve and whether it was the right thing for me. Like many parents, their goal for me was the traditional university route as that was all they knew.

I applied for the GSK engineering apprenticeship programme around the same time as my UCAS application. The apprentice application process had multiple stages; the first stage was a simple application form where I expressed my interest, gave my qualifications and prior experience. I then took an online test - the World of GSK - which showed several videos and asked multiple-choice questions on what would influence your decisions if you were at GSK. The last stage was the assessment centre, where I could show everything I had expressed in the previous stages. I was able to see the site and meet the people working there and this was a great opportunity to see for myself whether this apprenticeship was right for me. Luckily, I passed and was given an offer to join the programme. My parents then took time to understand the apprenticeship. One of the real benefits was the fact that I would be earning while my education was being paid for and I would even have the chance to do my degree. All in all, there was no reason to not accept the offer.

When I started the apprenticeship, it was hard to see all my friends who went directly to university having a great time during freshers’ week; I did feel like I was missing out. Although I had been very excited prior to starting, after some time I started to become doubtful and wondered if it really was the best option for me. It was a hard adjustment and I realised that going from school to a full-time job is a very big jump. But once I fully settled in and got into a routine I started to enjoy it more and more. You’re surrounded by colleagues of all ages, but there are many who are starting their career, from the apprentices to the placement students to the graduates, so we’ve gradually built a network.

I’ve been able to connect with apprentices all around the world through events such as the Outward Bound week which is a residential trip filled with team building activities and we also have an online platform called NxtGen, which is our global network of apprentices. I’ve been invited to other networking opportunities such as the WISE awards, and an IET event, and hopefully many more will come my way.

I am now in the second year of my apprenticeship and I’m seconded to the automation team where we create and apply technology to monitor and control the production of data, products and services. I really enjoy this side of engineering. It’s such a broad career and there are many opportunities and different paths I could take.

In December 2018, I completed my Electrical HNC course and this September I’ll register to complete my electrical and electronic engineering degree – at one of the universities I had on my UCAS form! I’m interacting with a variety of people across different areas of work and constantly broadening my knowledge. I now feel confident in the workplace and hope to spend the rest of my apprenticeship learning more and becoming a real asset to the company.

Who is GSK?
We are a science-led global healthcare company with a special purpose: to help people do more, feel better, live longer. Our 3 global businesses – Pharmaceuticals, Vaccines and Consumer Healthcare – research, develop and manufacture life-enhancing products for our patients and consumers. Together, they are responsible for everything from measles vaccines and major pain relief brands, to research into new medicines to treat a range of diseases. Our goal is to be one of the world’s most innovative, best-performing and trusted healthcare companies.

Whatever area you join, you’ll find our values and expectations are at the heart of all we do. Our values are Patient focus, Respect for people, Transparency and Integrity, and we’ll expect you to share them too. Along with our four expectations – Courage, Accountability, Development and Teamwork – they guide our actions and decision making, so we can achieve extraordinary things for our patients and consumers.

We’re 100% open to all talent – whatever your gender, marital status, religion, age, colour, race, sexual orientation, nationality or disability. We want to recruit the right people for GSK from the widest possible backgrounds, so we can better serve the diversity of our patients and consumers. And also because it’s the right thing to do.

A key priority for GSK is to make sure we can all be ourselves, feel good and keep growing. Our Employee Resource Groups – Embrace (ethnic minority), the Women’s Leadership Initiative, Spectrum (LGBT+) and the Disability Confidence Network - ensure we continue to progress in creating an inclusive environment where everyone can be their best.

How does an apprenticeship compare to university?
Our apprenticeship programme is a smart alternative route for students who want to start their career from day one. You’ll benefit from early responsibility and opportunities in the world of work, enabling you to reach your career goals whilst studying towards academic and industry accredited qualifications.

What does an apprenticeship involve?
Apprenticeships give you hands-on experience in your chosen discipline and the opportunity to play a key role in contributing to the future success of the company, while learning on-the-job from industry leaders, earning a competitive salary and studying towards a degree, postgraduate or academic qualification.

What are the learning and development opportunities?
The opportunities range from science to engineering, from manufacturing to business operations. We have many different apprenticeship programmes as shown in the diagram below

You’ll have the opportunity to grow and develop with GSK and reach technical specialist, management and leadership levels. Our differentiated training and development programme consists of learning on the job from industry experts, to having an assigned mentor or buddy, as well as the more formal qualification part of your apprenticeship. To support your soft skills development, you’ll be engaged in teamwork, making presentations and building communications experience. You’ll also take part in development weeks where you will meet and network with other apprentices from the UK and beyond.

At which sites can I undertake an apprenticeship at GSK?
GSK offers apprenticeships across many of our sites in the UK. Ideally, you’ll live within a 60 minute commute of your chosen site, either at home or with close family or friends. The roles we have available vary from site to site, so please think carefully whether we have the right role you for in the right area.

Who can apply?
We offer Advanced through to Higher and Degree apprenticeships. There is no age restriction and the level of apprenticeship you apply for depends on your current skills, qualifications and of course, your area of interest.

How can I apply and what is the selection process?
There are 5 stages to the process which are outlined below and there’s more information on our careers website www.gsk.com/careers

Will there be a permanent job at the end?
Apprenticeships are now an essential component of our talent pipeline. We establish all our apprenticeship programmes with the ambition of offering a permanent position upon successful completion of the programme. To date, over 95% of our former apprentices are still with the company in full time roles.

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