HEAD of GSK’s apprenticeship schemes in the UK, Steve Stewart explains how the scheme works.
WHAT’S THE ROUTE AND LENGTH OF A GSK APPRENTICESHIP?
“It varies on the discipline and type of course you’re doing. So at GSK it’s anywhere from two to four years.
“Depending if you’re coming in as an advanced apprentice, which is coming in at NVQ level three which is straight after school, five GCSEs is the entry level for that. They generally take four years, they’re the engineering and manufacturing roles.
“Things like labs, finance, supply chain tend to be higher apprenticeships, NVQ level five and they’re looking at people who have GCSEs plus some other education, A-levels, or Scottish Highers if you’re North of the border.
“We ask them to apply online at www.gsk.com/apprenticeships. If they go on there they’ll find a link to the apprentice website.
“Then we’ll screen the CVs and people who pass the screening and have what we’re looking for in terms of qualifications and experience will go on to be invited to do some testing and that will be some online tests, verbal and numerical. Depending on which subject you’re doing, you may do a mechanical test as well if it’s engineering.
“If successful at that stage then they’ll go through to an assessment centre, which will comprise of interview, presentation, group exercise and an introduction to the site. From that we’ll select the lucky candidates”.
WHAT’S THE TIMESCALE FOR THE APPLICATION PROCESS?
“We opened for applications just before Christmas, the application section on the website (gsk.com) is live now and we closed the applications on Monday, March 16.
“We look to finish the assessment centres before mid-May. Before people start their exams, we’d contact people and tell them if they’d been successful. Then we’d work through getting the details, checking references with schools and colleges for them to start in September."
WHY CHOOSE AN APPRENTICESHIP AT GSK?
“I think it’s best to listen to what our own apprentices say. We’ve been out and spoken to ourapprentices - including Hannah Bell’s group, the apprentice network. The biggest factor we’ve got back is the quality of the training, so the apprentices we’ve got really appreciate the fact that they’re getting one to one tuition from a leading expert in the industry.
“They get chance to learn in a different style. Rather than burying their head in a book at university, they get that hands-on practical experience.
“Anna Shaw spoke really well about that when she applied for the WISE Award, in terms of it really suited her style of learning to sit down with someone who is an absolute industry expert and get that one to one tuition which then is supported by a meaningful national qualification.
“The other big bit that resonates with parents and students alike is the chance to earn while you work. With the current climate of university applications and the cost of university there’s a big drive for people to look at apprenticeships as a different route into blue chip businesses, so they’re the two big things that are coming back off our apprentices in their own words.”
IN WHAT OTHER WAYS DOES GSK ATTRACT APPRENTICES?
“People buy into our brand - ‘do more, feel better, live longer’. We’ve found that when we go out talking to people we need to do a bit to raise brand awareness for GSK.. When we’re talking to people about GSK we found that people that age really buy into helping people to live a better, longer life.
“We’re trying to broaden the apprentice experience so we are looking at running outward bound courses for new apprentices to help with behavioural skills. Coming into a business at 16 or 17 can be quite daunting. We are look to get them some softer skills in terms of helping with their personal brand as well as team working, project management skills, and the technical side of things.
“We’ve talked to people about the global opportunities and at the moment we’re looking to extend ourapprenticeships globally. It’s quite exciting, but certainly there’s a wealth of opportunities, it’s down to a person’s ambition to get there.
“GSK has a competitive salary. We are constantly reviewing the market to make sure we are competitive. As well as the salary, there’s the pension, bonus and share schemes as well. It’s a competitive total reward package for anyone.
“If you think in terms of the training as well, it will be fully paid for by GSK so that’s another big hook for people and if you want to get a real good quality level of training on your CV then it’s a good opportunity and is covered by GSK as well as earning a salary at the same time.”
DOES AN APPRENTICESHIP WITH GSK LEAD TO A FULL-TIME JOB?
“The vision is that everyone who does an apprenticeship scheme is offered a role if they’ve performed, passed their exams, passed their apprenticeship, and their behaviours are where we expect them to be, they’ll be offered a role and certainly we test that out with the business at the start There’s strategic workforce planning that sits behind it to make sure there’s a role for that apprentice if everything has gone according to plan for them.”
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