1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a manufacturing apprentice at GSK. During my first year I was given a full overview of all areas of the site I work on, and spent a short time in each area learning the basics of how the site runs and how every area works together to run smoothly. I was then aligned to a specific area, in which I trained to become an operational technician and gained my level 2 Process operations. During my second year I am working towards my level 3 in technical support and now that I have a good understanding of the processing operations, I can apply this knowledge to help with problem solving, quality control and waste management with the technical support team. My daily tasks differ and are distributed throughout the week, which means that repetitiveness is never an issue. I work within the area 2-3 days a week, operating the plant and machinery and working within a team to make quality products for our patients. I am also working with my manager to learn about deviation management so often attend various meetings involving RCA's and CAPA's. Though I have college work to be getting on with, time is set aside for me to do this an this also helps break the week up a bit. My responsibilities include keeping up to date with my learning curriculum and making sure that all of my qualifications to work with hazardous materials and with the machinery etc. are up to date and to abide by the GMP standards at all times, to (once competent) work with the plant and machinery safely in accordance to GMP standards and to maintain a safe working environment for both myself and my colleagues. I have worked on various projects throughout my apprenticeship, one of which included working with the site leadership team to come up with a site vision for the next 5 years (2015-2020), and several others to improve ways of working and safety in the workplace.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have bee given the opportunity to attend many extra curricular courses, such as IOSH, risk assessment training, health and safety courses and team building activities. I have learnt much over the last year and a half and should be learning a lot more during my time in technical support.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I thoroughly enjoy this programme. It has helped me both develop on my existing skills and weaknesses, and learnt completely new ones. I work with an incredible team of people who all have a great attitude towards work and helping others which has helped me massively. In terms of work culture and people, these are both well above my original expectations.
4. How valued do you feel by GSK?
As we have assigned mentors and managers, I feel they make enough time for me, and I can always ask for more if I need it. We keep in contact with regular meetings to discuss the future, my progression, how I'm doing with my current work and even just any questions in general. The benefits of working for the company alone are extremely encouraging as even as an apprentice, I am given the chance to buy shares and a pension plan etc.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
As we were the first year that this programme had been run on this site, it was a bit bumpy at first, but we have worked closely with the right people to ensure things run more smoothly for future apprentices and I have full confidence in GSK to do this. Though we have had trouble with Cogent, the learning provider to approve some of the programme, which cost us some time as we were switched from a BTEC to a City and Guilds curriculum, which took some time.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Our College Tutor has been great in providing support for us and helping us with our college based learning. He is also responsible for our on site verifications and practical assessments within the manufacturing areas. He provides a lot of support and resources for us, and was heavily involved with working with GSK and Cogent to set out the best course of learning for us to get what we want and need out of the apprenticeship.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
GSK have supported me well throughout the apprenticeship, providing me with everything I need in the work place to the best of their ability, though I've had the occasional rough patch, it has been more to unforeseen circumstances that have not been in the companies control, such as breakdowns of machinery etc. though they did their best to move me to another area that was running effectively for me to continue my learning with minimal disruption. A lot of people, even including the site manager himself have worked with us to understand better what it is we need and help provide this for us.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The pay is more than fair as it is above even the minimum wage for someone over the age 0f 21, along with tax relief benefits and pension scheme. The company also pay expenses for any trips or courses they send me on, such a travel costs, hotels, catering etc.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
GSK are involved in a number of charity events and work outings. We do work with our local communities and charities as well as international ones such as 'Save The Children'. We are even given days off throughout the year to go and do community work, called 'Orange days'. We take part in fundraisers both on and off site, and I have gone out to numerous schools to man a stall at apprenticeship fairs voluntarily. The company also hold its own events and each team in every area is allowed their own outings to celebrate events at their managers discretion. I am a STEM ambassador and am allowed to attend STEM events as a GSK representative during my working hours, as long as it does not effect my college timetable of course.
9a. Would you recommend GSK to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
I thoroughly enjoy my job and working for GSK both as a place of work and for my interest in the course. I'd suggest it to anyone interested in the STEM subjects and a career in science, as well as anyone who would like to get paid to learn.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to GSK? *
Show your passion for the subjects you're interested in and willingness to learn and continuously improve. You'll have to do this as the first step in applying is answering questions online as to why you'd like to work for GSK. Don't pass up the opportunity, if you never try, you'll never know. If you meet the criteria and are keen to pursue a career in science, GSK is a good place to start.
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