Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent is bucking the trend for apprenticeships in the UK with on-site collaboration a key part of that success.
In January, The Guardian newspaper reported a near 27% drop nationally in the number taking up trainee posts in the last quarter of 2017. The number starting UK apprentices dropped to 114.000 between August and October, down from 155,700 in the same period in 2016.
At Discovery Park 90 young people are in some form of apprenticeship. These include higher level science related degree apprenticeships. These are seen as an increasingly popular alternative to full-time university for those seeking a career in science.
Apprenticeships just one part of Discovery Park’s education offer
Apprenticeships are an important part of Discovery Park’s education offer, but not the only one. For younger students the site supports school events such as Big Bang, organised by Kent and Medway STEM. There is also the East Kent Jamboree in June. Both of these event are championed by several science companies located in Sandwich.
In addition, Pfizer’s Community Lab, operated in partnership with East Kent College provides world class lab facilities to enhance science lessons at schools across the county.
Canterbury Christ Church University’s Life Sciences Industry Liaison Laboratory, meanwhile gives PhD students direct access to real world research being conducted by scientists at Discovery Park.
Kimberley Anderson, Corporate Relations Manager, Discovery Park, said:
“Education is pivotal to the success of Discovery Park and creating the opportunities for students and young adults to discover why science is so amazing is what we really set out to do.
“Many of our tenants onsite have helped to drive the number of apprenticeship available on site recognising the importance of doing all they can to attract the brightest talent into science.
Building a skills base to ensure science park continues to power the UK life sciences sector
Edward Rhodes, 20, is among those to take this route. Having completed his first apprenticeship with Centauri Therapeutics through a scheme run by East Kent College, he has now begun a higher-level course shared between lab time at the immuno-oncology focused biotech and study time with the University of Kent.
Ever since Pfizer set up its first facility in the 1950s a talent pool of skills has developed that has made this corner of the South East of England as pivotal to science research as Oxford or Cambridge.
Discovery Park is continuing that legacy through the work of its tenants and its own drive as site owners to ensure Sandwich continued to have the skills base and talents on hand for this iconic globally focused science park to thrive.
This approach has helped to ensure Discovery Park can continue to lead in a range of disciplines from biotech pioneers researching immunotherapeutic approaches to fighting disease, to companies handling the logistics of global drug discovery.
For them, supporting and developing early career talent is key to the ensuring they can ensure the skills base in the areas where they operate continue to thrive, generation to generation.
Pfizer continues to play part in developing Kent’s skills base at Discovery Park
Karl Treacy, Head of Recruitment and Academic Liaison, Pfizer, said: “We take great pride in supporting and developing early career talent across all of our academia work programmes.
“Presently we are supporting over 40 apprentices at our sites in Discovery Park, Kent and Tadworth, Surrey across a range of disciplines including Research & Development, Engineering, Administration, and IT to name a few.
“Having a strong apprentice programme in place enables Pfizer to attract and recruit talented individuals, helping to develop their skills and in doing so ensuring there is a strong future talent pipeline within the Pharmaceutical sector.”
East Kent College key part of world class facility for life sciences
East Kent College is pivotal to the success of science-based apprenticeships with their Discovery Park campus perfectly located for linking their students with science and other companies powering the site’s next chapter.
Graham Razey, Principal, East Kent College said: “Having a base at Discovery Park has really enhanced our students’ experience, bringing them closer to industry and helping them develop their skills in a world class facility.
“The networking opportunities are excellent, and as a result of being based at Discovery Park, we’ve been able to build strong links within the life sciences sector.”