Small S in STEM

It’s Time the UK Changed its Mind about Apprenticeships in STEM: Particularly Laboratory-based Roles

Misconceptions about the value of science apprenticeships, coupled with and a lack of employer awareness, are leading to low numbers of learners enrolling on scientific apprenticeships across the UK. We want to change that and give more people the opportunity to enter careers in science. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) sector represents a significant percentage of the UK GDP. IT, Engineering and Manufacturing apprenticeships are seeing a healthy increase in learner numbers year-on-year. Apprenticeships in Science, however, have long been underutilised. To address this we have launched a campaign called the “Small s in STEM”.  The objective of this campaign is to bring apprentices, training providers and employers together to showcase the excellent opportunities and benefits that science-based apprenticeship generate. The immediate goal is to bring the numbers of apprenticeships in Science up to the 1000 mark. The long-term goal is to match the throughput of Engineering apprenticeships, at 50,000.

CSR will be launching a variety of road shows across the UK to promote this campaign, please see our Events page for further details.

Jade Smith, a CSR laboratory technician apprentice at ABCAM, and finalist in the National Apprenticeship Awards, thinks a lack of discussion in schools and a fixation on university might be to blame for this disparity. She says, “Schools nowadays are very much university focused so there’s not that much emphasis and advertisement about apprenticeships. There’s that stigma that apprenticeships are for those who can’t get into university.”


Bushra Nawaz, who recently began an apprenticeship with Oxford University working at the BioEscalator, has experienced this stigma herself. She says, “I think there’s a massive problem in general with the fact that people aren’t going for the apprenticeships purely because they think with science it has to be school, university and then a job, but actually it doesn’t work like that anymore.”