Creating windows of opportunity

A company’s employees are its greatest asset. They are what push the company forward, driving its growth and development. So it only makes sense that organisations should also drive the growth of its workers. Enabling employees to be successful makes the company more successful.

This is more than just ensuring that the quality of work remains strong: it’s about letting people know that their futures are something employers are invested in.

Throughout March, our employees have been sharing their experiences and promoting opportunities within LGC that they have found helpful.

The apprentice

LGC apprentices met with Sir John Holman, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, at the beginning of March, gave him a tour of their labs, and spoke with the BBC about what their apprenticeship means to them.

LGC apprentices Jennifer Meacock and Renato Junior met with Prof Sir John Holman. © Royal Society of Chemistry/Richard Stonehouse

“I love it. I know some people go into work and dread it but I never have that feeling, I’m always enjoying it when I’m here,” said Jenny Meacock. “They don’t treat you like you know less than anyone else; you’re instantly treated as an equal.”

National Apprenticeship Week (5-9 March) brought attention to the fact that while more options are becoming available, less than one percent of all apprenticeships are in science, meaning there’s a gap that science organisations need to address.  And this is something that Chief Scientific Officer & Government Chemist Derek Craston understands.

Government Chemist Derek Craston (centre) with Richard Holliday (left) and Danny Ho (right). © Royal Society of Chemistry/Richard Stonehouse

“It’s an important way into science – skills are really important for organisations like ours,” explained Derek. “We do complex things that need good technical knowledge and good practical knowledge. The conventional route of just going through school and going onto university, works for some people, but it doesn’t work for all.”

In a previous blog post, apprentice Krzysztof Pilec shared how the apprenticeship scheme has worked for him, saying, “Overall I don’t think it is possible to be any happier with the choice of signing up for this apprenticeship. It has been an enjoyable, fun and incredibly educational time for me at this company as an apprentice.”

Leadership

LGC employees at our Alexandria, Minnesota and Madison, Wisconsin sites teamed up for training and workshops on 14-16 March in Alexandria.  One of many sessions to be executed across LGC, the training aims to create a culture of trust and respect, where leaders learn to consciously to adapt to various communication styles and involve team members in decision making.

LGC employees attend a leadership training session in the US.

Employees found the training to be not only a great opportunity to work together, but also a positive step in their own professional development.

“The training provided immediate tools for prioritization, understanding and dealing with different personality types, and creating a respectful work culture,” said Julie Kramer, Director of Marketing at LGC’s newly-acquired Lucigen. “The only question now is, ‘What should I implement first’?”

The workshop was aimed at first-time managers and anyone who felt that they could be a leader, but Rob Brazas, Senior Product Manager at Lucigen, believes that this type of leadership training shouldn’t be limited to just managers.

“It focused on communication skills that are valuable whether you’re in management or not. All employees would benefit from this training,” explained Rob.

Whether you implement apprenticeships, encourage your team to develop their leadership skills, or help employees realize their potential in other ways, the goal should be to create an empowered culture where leaders have tools to communicate and have a sense of ownership in the company’s success.

Are apprenticeships the future of science?

Prof Sir John Holman, president of the RSC, speaks with apprentice Krzysztof Pilec and former apprentice Amy Rogers about their roles. (© Royal Society of Chemistry/Richard Stonehouse)

This week marks the 11th annual National Apprenticeship Week, a time for organisations across the country to celebrate the success of apprenticeships and encourage more people to participate in their schemes.

Apprenticeships provide an alternative to young people who either don’t wish to or are unable to attend university, and in some cases, they can complement university studies.  These schemes give students the chance to learn on their feet in real work environments, while earning money and achieving professional qualifications. And evidence shows that they work. Ninety-two percent of apprentices feel that their apprenticeship has had a positive impact on their career prospects. But there’s still a way to go in the science community to providing these opportunities to future scientists.

In the last academic year, there were nearly 500,000 apprenticeships. Yet fewer than 300 of those are in science, which accounts for less than one percent of all apprenticeships. This limits paths to those who’d like to pursue careers in science, and if we want the best and brightest of a diverse workforce pushing science into the future, this gap needs to be addressed.

As we’ve learned through our own accredited apprenticeship programme, students welcome the opportunity to get on-the-job training and experience in a professional environment. Many of our apprentices even go on to get hired as qualified scientists with LGC.

If you’re considering pursuing a science apprenticeship, don’t just take our word for it: hear it straight from one of our own apprentices, Krzysztof Pilec, who helped us understand what his apprenticeship means to him.

What is your role at LGC?

“I’m an apprentice at LGC, completing a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship in Chemical Science for Industry and currently, I work in the Large Molecule Bioanalysis department as an Assistant Scientist. I also attend an education program run by CSR, who specialise in training apprentices and work with LGC on their apprentice program. Out of this program I will also receive a Level 4 Laboratory and Associated Technical Activities qualification.

What are some of your day-to-day tasks?

“My day-to-day job consists of quality control checking proformas, carrying out assays, maintaining the lab and even handling data through Watson, software we use to analyse data. I’ve learned a lot of things at LGC, including how to take care and maintain the equipment we use and how the samples are processed through the facility, from delivery to the project management in the form of data. I’m still learning how to completely understand, set up and carry out an assay. I have some experience in carrying out assays, but I haven’t yet gotten the hang of how to set one up. I’m learning that now. Also, I’m learning how to write professional reports, including where to look to get the information and data to write one.”c

How do you feel about your apprenticeship?

“Overall I don’t think it is possible to be any happier with the choice of signing up for this apprenticeship. It has been an enjoyable, fun and incredibly educational time for me at this company as an apprentice. I think what I like the best at LGC is that after successfully completing the course, you get a very high chance of employment as a professional scientist, so nothing you learn here is ever going to waste.”

To find out more about our apprenticeship programme, visit our website, or register to attend our Science Apprenticeship Open Day next month.