A Higher Level Apprenticeship is a 'job' from day one which includes a combination of on and off-the-job training.
A person must have attained the minimum school leaving age and have the potential to successfully complete all the requirements of the appropriate Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA). Entry onto a HLA programme is subject to achieving the required UCAS points and securing employment. A HLA must be employed from Day 1 for a minimum of 21 hrs per week (which includes directed training time) with a Northern Ireland based company.
Apply now here: https://application.src.ac.uk/login.php
Higher Level Apprenticeships Available:
The programme will commence in the 2019/2020 academic year.
The programme will commence 2019/2020 academic year.
The programme will commence 2019/2020 academic year.
The programme will commence in the 2019/2020 academic year
Computing Higher Level Apprenticeship Flyer - Programme subject to approval.
Programme will commence 2019/2020 academic year.
To read about how some of our Higher Level Apprentices are getting on in the workplace click on the links below...
Name: Grace Catney
What is your job within Randox Laboratories? As I am part of the Higher Level Apprenticeship with Randox, we are given the opportunity to rotate around departments that we are interested in every 6 months over the space of 2 years. For the first 6 months of the Foundation Degree we were placed into Production, following out a variety of tasks from capping vials of immunoassay calibrators to centrifuging human serum. Being in Production helped me gain a lot of knowledge about the company and gain a background knowledge of many products formed and procedures used. We also were placed into other parts of the company for short periods of time such as the Microbiology Lab, Serum Production and Bulk Dispense. Currently we are in our second department; being separated into individual quality control labs, mine being Biochip Formulation Quality Control. Each day I am running tests on kits produced by Randox, making sure they fit criteria using controls, calibrators or samples. I am really enjoying my current placement as I am part of a team that is constantly developing new and existing diagnostic solutions.
Why did you decide to move into this area as a career choice? I was always interested in science from the early years of secondary school. When I soon realised that AS levels were not for me, I joined SRC to obtain my BTEC Extended Diploma Level 3 in Applied Sciences - it was the best decision I have ever made. I personally believe I wouldn’t have the practical knowledge I now have through SRC if I continued with my A Levels. Through SRC I was made aware of this Foundation Degree Higher Level Apprenticeship and knew it was what I wanted to do. Having two year’s experience over university students will be such an advantage in my favour. The practical and theoretical side of science always grabbed my attention, mainly Chemistry and so by working for Randox I am getting that hands on experience every day of work, gaining specific skills required for the job I wish to do in the future.
What is a typical day like? My day begins at 8:40am when I arrive into work and meet with my manager to get my work orders and procedures for the day. I then search up lot numbers and materials needed for the run and gather everything together. Everything in the lab must be recorded and signed off, for traceability reasons and so all your materials, times etc. are written down. I then book all my times in for the equipment that I will need to run my QC kit. I then begin my run which may take 3+ hours to carry out, taking into consideration processes such as incubations, pipetting and developing. When I have finished the practical side of the procedure, I then go on to image my biochips, using equipment developed by Randox themselves. Detailed images are taken of each individual biochip and antibody spotted and compared against a standard. These images are then saved onto the work network and checklists, instructions and comparisons are carried out with excel documents and other programmes to see whether or not the kit has passed QC. I then clock out and head home at 5:20pm, or later if I stay behind to finish my piece of work. As I only started in Biochip QC recently, I am still doing training and soon will be able to work independently every day.
How do you juggle work and study? Having that balance between work, school and play can be difficult. We are grateful enough to be supported by our employers and given the opportunity to have a little bit of free time when needed to study or do some school work. Getting used to the 9-5 job and travelling time can also be challenging, however you learn with time how to balance everything out so that you’re work doesn’t pile up. Also, SRC are so supportive with all the work and you can email your tutors with any queries at any time. We arrange online video calls with our tutor for evening classes when needed, which was very useful with such a demanding course.
Are your responsibilities challenging? It can be challenging at times, but that’s what I love about science - all the new reactions, materials, procedures, regulations etc. to learn. The workload can be overwhelming at times, but that will happen when you’re part of such a successful company and the support is always there if needs be. Luckily, I enjoy the rush and challenge of my job, and knowing your employer is putting trust with their products in your hands is an amazing feeling.
What advice would you give someone thinking of studying for a Higher Level Apprenticeship? Definitely consider it! I always thought that GCSE’s, then A levels and then onto university was the only option - but it’s not. By doing a Higher Level Apprenticeship you can earn while you learn, gain more hands on experience that no university study will have and gain that relationship with a possible employer when you finish you’re degree. Also, not having any student loans to worry about is an amazing feeling. If it wasn’t for SRC I would of never heard about this opportunity, and I’m so grateful to be part of it.
Name: Ryan Martin
What is your job within Randox Laboratories?
I am a Clinical Chemistry Quality Control Analyst
Tell me about your role?
My lab receives samples from reagents and finished kits manufactured by Randox. We carry out tests using advia chemistry analysers to determine if the reagents are functioning as they should be.
What is a typical day like?
On a typical day I will come into work and look through the Q.C. folder to check what kits have come down from manufacturing. I take the kits from the cold room, grab my control kits that are run alongside the kit that is being tested and load all the reagent on the analysers. The tests are carried out and the data is recorded onto a spreadsheet with defined limits. These limits let us know if the kit is working as it should be. The paperwork is filled out, checked and sent away to the quality assurance department for confirmation. I also carry out similar tests on reagents that are still in process so that kinks are ironed out before they move on to the finished product stage.
Why did you decide to go down the Apprenticeship route as opposed to a traditional University route?
I decided to go down the Apprenticeship route instead of the usual route as there were a lot more benefits to going to Randox. Before I was offered a place at Randox I had been accepted to John Moores University in Liverpool to study Biomedical Science. I was a week away from when I was moving to Liverpool when I received a phone call from Randox letting me know that I had been accepted. Randox made more sense as it allowed me to avoid paying the £9,000 a year tuition fees in Liverpool. It also allowed me to study a Foundation Degree with no fees while earning as I learn. It also gives two years work experience opposed to the one year I would have gotten in Liverpool. The two years work experience gives me a leg up on other students coming out of university as it is more lucrative to employers.
What have you learnt on the Higher Level Apprenticeship course and what experience have you gained in Randox?
I have learned a lot on the course, the topics covered are very broad a cover a lot of different subjects, so far they are mostly for the benefit of those who might not have been in education for a few years and allows them to catch up so everyone is at the same level. I have gained a good insight into how a product goes through the manufacturing process to become the final product. I have also learned how to use numerous scientific instruments effectively i.e. pipettes, centrifuges.
What advice would you give someone thinking of studying for a Higher Level Apprenticeship?
I would advise them to go for it! It’s a great opportunity and provides the necessary skills required for gaining employment in a scientific industry. It is definitely worth considering and could give them a leg up on the competition coming out of university with only one year’s work experience.
My name is Jill Saunders. I am 19.
Where do you work?
I work in a Quality Control Laboratory in the primary production facility at Norbrook in Newry.
What does the company do?
Norbrook is a leading global provider of veterinary pharmaceuticals.
What is your role?
I work in analysing one particular Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) called Flunixin, which is manufactured by Norbrook. This is an active ingredient for a number of different Finished Products that we manufacture in Norbrook. It is a three stage manufacturing process, for which each Intermediate stage must be chemically analysed to ensure it meets with the registered specification. This ensures it is of the required quality to progress to the next stage of the process, or for the final API, for use in the manufacture of finished products. I am involved with the analysis of the intermistaes and the finished API.
Why did you decide to move into this area as a career?
I studied science at A-level and I was really interested in entering into a career in the scientific field. There is a lot of scope for progression within Norbrook so I was delighted to get a place on the Higher Level Apprenticeship which allows me to work for Norbrook while continuing to pursue my studies.
What is your typical day like?
I am allocated a sample for testing and carry out a variety of pre-specified tests depending on what stage of testing the product is at. I complete the paperwork as the analysis progresses, as continuous, real time record keeping is an essential part of the role. It allows us to review and monitor the product at every stage of manufacture. The laboratory testing ensures that the material meets the relevant standards of quality, consistency and many other essential elements.
How do you juggle work and study?
Good time management is essential when working and studying simultaneously. I find that for me it is important to be disciplined and to start assignments early to give me time to work through them. I always make sure I allocate hours at home for study to help me balance the workload. We have some online classes in the evening which makes it quite flexible- it keeps us focussed and enables us to pack a lot in.
Why did you decide to go down the higher level apprenticeship route for training rather than the more traditional university route to obtain a higher education qualification?
I believe that a Higher Level Apprenticeship is a much more cost effective way of getting a similar qualification to the more traditional university route. You can obtain a degree at the same time as getting work experience and there are still opportunities to progress further with the skills acquired through work practice and academic study. When I complete the programme I will have a Foundation Degree and two years’ paid work experience with no student debt.
What have you learned and what experience have you gained?
I have learned a complete set of new workplace skills which you don’t get from studying. I have gained valuable experience in a laboratory and an understanding of just how important chemistry is in the veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturing process. I have also learned how to effectively manage my time and to work well with others.
Are your responsibilities challenging?
Yes there is pressure to get things out on time and in compliance with specification- we are very focussed on ‘right first time’. You also have a responsibility for yourself and to others in terms of health and safety as well as being accurate in recording data and complying with all Health and Safety requirements when handling chemicals and reagents. I work as part of a team under a Senior Analyst so while you are expected to be able to work independently you have the assurance of being part of a team with someone much more experienced overseeing your work.
Do you like working there?
Yes, it is both challenging and rewarding every single day. I enjoy working as part of a team and being able to learn from that team. I really like the department that I work in and I can see many opportunities to further my career within Norbrook.
What is most rewarding aspect of your role?
There are many rewarding aspects of my job role especially knowing that you have contributed to the quality assurance processes involved in getting a finished product out to customers. I really enjoy the fact that the Higher Level Apprenticeship allows you to learn while working; and that the work you are doing in Norbrook really helps with the learning. I hope that this combination will help me to achieve a good degree classification.
Have you any advice for someone considering a Higher Level Apprenticeship?
It is challenging but the work experience that you gain throughout definitely makes it worthwhile. There are areas for progression and you can experience straight away what a career in a scientific field would be like, instead of perhaps getting your qualifications and realising that it is not what you want to do. It is also the most cost effective way, in my opinion, to get a higher level qualification.
Ulster University Foundation Degree in Applied Industrial Sciences (Chemical Sciences) Higher Level Apprenticeship
Maura Donnelly, aged 20 from Dungannon, firstly completed her A Levels in Maths, Biology and Chemistry which gave her a sound foundation for progressing to the Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA) in Applied Industrial Sciences at SRC Newry Campus. Maura attends the College one day per week and spends the remainder of the week on placement in Almac Group, at it's global headquarters based in Craigavon.
Gaining her experience in an international company, Maura said; “The support I receive from both the College and Almac Group is excellent. The lecturers are very helpful and understanding during every step of my learning journey and the provision of online tutorials is fantastic. My mentor and line manager at Almac Group are supportive and strive to give me as many new learning opportunities as possible. I have gained a lot of experience in laboratory work - I have learned how a science laboratory operates, the essential duties a science technician must carry out to maintain a good working environment and I am now also experienced in many modern scientific and analytical techniques such as Karl Fischer titrations. The HLA is a great alternative to going to university as it combines invaluable on-the-job training and experience whilst achieving a Level 5 qualification. If you want to earn and learn at the same time this is the route for you!
Ulster University Foundation Degree in Applied Industrial Sciences (Chemical Sciences) Higher Level Apprenticeship
Danielle, aged 21 from Gilford, initially completed the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Applied Science at Southern Regional College’s Armagh Campus and decided that she wanted to progress to the Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA) in Applied Industrial Sciences at the SRC Newry Campus.
Danielle is employed by Almac Group at their headquarters in Craigavon during the 2-year programme and attends College one day per week. Gaining her experience in one of NI’s leading pharmaceutical companies, Danielle said; “The support I receive from Almac Group and from the College is very strong and consistent. Both organisations come together to ensure that I am progressing well and reaching my full potential. Both Almac Group and SRC invest so much time in the apprentices – I honestly couldn’t fault any of it at all. During my time on the course and on placement, I have learned to be more confident in my abilities and knowledge. There is such a strong and committed support system via my work-placement mentor and through the focus groups at the College. The real-life industrial experience I am gaining in a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) environment with a world leading company is fantastic! I can grow into my new career whilst learning, progressing and becoming more skilled within the company I want my career to be with.
My advice to someone considering a Higher Level Apprenticeship is to just do it! It is an amazing ‘once in a life time’ opportunity to earn and learn at the same time, acquiring no debt, obtaining real industrial experience and you will be surrounded by highly skilled people who are striving for you to achieve your goal.”
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