Mike Gaston, Principal and Chief Executive of Havant & South Downs College (HSDC), visited apprentices at Wickham Laboratories as part of celebrating and supporting National Apprenticeship Week.
Wickham Labs currently has five apprentices from HSDC, including: Megan, James, Liam, Alexander and Samuel.
Principal Mike Gaston paid a visit to the laboratories on Friday 9 March to see how they are getting on in their Apprenticeship and the tasks they are completing at the microbiology labs.
Megan started her Level 3 Lab Technician Apprenticeship in September. She said: “I work four days a week here and I do one day at College. I did A Levels at HSDC and decided to go onto an Apprenticeship rather than go to university – this is a great way to learn and make money whilst figuring out if this is what you want to do in the future.
“I feel more independent and it is a great feeling when you get signed off for new things, it is a great achievement.
“I am really enjoying it here, I have been learning about different types of organisms and how to carry out different practical experiments.”
Senior Technician has been mentoring Megan and said: “Megan is getting on really well and is getting involved with everything – she has picked it up very quickly.
“All the apprentices we have had through HSDC have been really good, so I would definitely say it is worth getting an apprentice into a business.
“It is great experience for them and we get to train the workforce for the future. They leave without debt and with lab-based skills they can use for their future careers.”
Mike also spoke to James, who has been on a Level 3 Lab Technician Apprenticeship at the labs since August 2016 and still loves every second.
He said: “I chose an Apprenticeship over university as I thought it would be a better route for me. The teachers are lovely, and they really listen to you. They tailored what they teach us to make sure we were learning things relevant to our job here.
“I am still loving it here and get on with everyone I work with.”
Section Head at Wickham Laboratories has overseen James’ progress. She said: “James is a very quick learner and he did a lot of background reading. If I wanted to get him to do a new method he would research into it first so he already had some knowledge of it, which is excellent.
“He came to us with almost no experience at all and he picked up the skills very quickly. Apprenticeships are a great idea because if you put time into education your staff they are more likely to stay in the company and you are investing in their future.”
Wickham Laboratories has a good track record with apprentices and has a number of success stories who have been offered a permanent position after their course.
Chloe was a former apprentice who came in with relatively low grade A Levels and chose an Apprenticeship because she wanted to get straight into the world of work. After her two-year course, she was offered a job at Wickham Labs.
She said: “Apprenticeships are a great idea. You have more opportunity to push yourself and you don’t leave with loads of debt. Once you are at a company you are more likely to get a job if an opportunity comes up.”
Mike also had a tour around Formaplex, a leading manufacturer for tooling and lightweight component solutions, and spoke to HSDC apprentices about their experiences and what they have gained from their course.
Mike said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting all our hardworking apprentices today and hearing about how they are getting on with their Apprenticeship with HSDC.
“I am very impressed with the skills they have picked up already and have no doubt they will go on to great things. Apprenticeships are an excellent way to get your foot in the door with a company whilst equipping you with the skills for your chosen career.”
For more information about Apprenticeships at HSDC, click here.