Apprenticeships: 'I enjoy my work immensely'

#InspiringApprentice Ben Moffatt decided at 17 he wanted to do an apprenticeship – and says it is better than university

Apprentice Ben Moffatt is doing a degree-level apprenticeship in hazard evaluation

My name is Ben Moffatt, I’m 21 years old and I’m from Guide Post, Northumberland. I am currently undertaking a degree-level apprenticeship as a hazard evaluation laboratory scientist. I am currently in my second year of four.

I first heard about apprenticeships from my brother, who had completed one himself as a warehouse operator  – but I discovered my previous apprenticeship, as a laboratory technician, through the government apprenticeship website, which listed many different types of apprenticeships.


Background: Minister backs #InspiringApprentices campaign

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Research into apprenticeships

My school struggled to provide any information regarding apprenticeships so I had to find out for myself and do plenty of research into which sector I wanted to go into.

Moving into my current apprenticeship, I expected it to be challenging due to the fact that I would have to balance my working life around studying for my degree, as well as my personal life.

In a way, it has lived up to my expectation of it being challenging, but it has also been very rewarding. I have moved out of my childhood home and become more independent, which my apprenticeship has allowed me to do. I’m also an apprentice ambassador with the Young Apprentice Ambassador Network, which is allowing me to share my story with the next generation.

My normal day-to-day working consists of performing different types of hazard safety testing, including reaction calorimetry, minimum ignition energy (MIE) determination, static chargeability and explosion severity. I enjoy my work immensely as I believe there is no other apprenticeship quite like mine that involves working in such a niche area. I have always been supported by my manager, Paul, who was very keen to welcome me into the hazard evaluation department, where I work closely with my tremendous mentor, Scott. I am well respected by my colleagues because of the work that I do and have always felt like an important member of the team.

Practical skills and experience

My favourite part of my job is performing world-first research at the cutting edge of chemical technology in process safety. This has helped me to develop my practical skills and I’m gaining a wealth of experience that will allow me to stand out from others if I were to apply for a different job.

Compared to the university route, I believe my apprenticeship is a better experience because by the time I have finished the apprenticeship programme, I will have gained six years of experience working in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as my degree, compared to a new graduate who will not have the amount of experience that I have which again allows me to stand out.

Proud and happy

When I first told my family and friends what I would be doing in my apprenticeship, they were amazed that something like this existed. I had first decided I wanted to do an apprenticeship at the age of 17, so my family and friends were proud and happy that I had been given the opportunity of one after I left sixth form.

Once I have completed my apprenticeship, I hope to remain in the hazard evaluation and process safety sector with my current employer. I would like to become a laboratory manager in my career and lead my own team. A move into the health, safety and environment sector is also possible because of my current experience.

I would strongly recommend that young people look into apprenticeships if it is possible for the area they want to go into once they have left school, especially if they want to go into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sector because learning is so much easier at work than it is in a classroom.

Ben Moffatt is an apprentice hazard evaluation scientist at Sterling Pharma Solutions

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