This week is Scottish Apprenticeship Week and for businesses who bring on apprentices, the ability to train them in a variety of skills and roles to the standards expected by the company is a massive bonus.
As an employer who values its apprentices, GSK is looking for the next group of youngsters who want to begin their careers in engineering, specifically electrical and instrumentation engineers, and manufacturing.
Mel Robertson, Engineering Team Manager at the Montrose site responsible for the Engineering Apprentice programme, is himself a product of the GSK scheme.
He said: “I started as an apprentice here 35 years ago and over the past 40 years, the company has brought in over 150 apprentices.
“Currently around 80 to 90% of our shop floor workers are former apprentices who have stayed with the company – and GSK always tries to find positions to allow them to stay when they finish their apprenticeships.”
The first year of the electrical and instrumentation apprenticeships will be spent at the Angus Training Group in the classroom getting the foundation knowledge needed to do the job.
Manufacturing apprentices, meanwhile, will do their learning at Dundee and Angus College as part of the three year programme.
The apprenticeships will then become more hands-on, as your mentor guides you through the GSK ways of working.
“We ensure there’s a good balance of mentors to apprentices, so the mentors have time to spend with the individual to make sure they are really learning,” Mel explained. “The mentor isn’t just a person who teaches you, but can also help guide and advise you as you progress through the apprenticeship and onwards after it is finished.”
Mel added that when it comes to picking the right people to be apprentices at GSK, what matters most is interest.
“I was always mechanically-minded when I was young and I look for that – I want to see if they know and are interested in engineering and are enthusiastic about learning more.”
For the electrical engineering apprentices, it’s not just the factory floor that’ll be their classroom. With acres of buildings, including offices, warehouses, labs and more, the engineering team is responsible for keeping the lights on and the work flowing throughout the Montrose site. That means the apprentices will learn a wide array of skills, not just working with factory machinery.
And for a global company like GSK, ensuring their instrumentation is always properly working and calibrated is vital for creating pharmaceutical products. That makes the instrumentation engineers a vital part of the workforce, so they learn everything from maintenance and fixing instruments to ensuring they are properly set and then rechecking them.
The GSK manufacturing apprenticeship is designed to create the manufacturing technicians of the future. Apprentices will develop the skills and knowledge required to operate the systems and equipment that produce GSK’s pharmaceutical products – from chemical processing, manufacturing and pharmaceutical packaging.
GSK also allows apprentices to continue their learning after they have qualified, some even achieving undergraduate degrees.
But it’s not just about the training. GSK has sites around the world and once you are working for the company, opportunities to take your skills to Canada, Australia or some other far-flung location can arise – so for those who want to see the world, this can be a way to get a skill and do it, while earning money along the way.