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Reflections of an Apprentice

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2022, Brad Purcell, Assistant Research Scientist, reflects on his journey through NPL’s apprenticeship scheme

I joined NPL as an apprentice in 2017, I was part of the first cohort to complete the metrology course. The first thing that struck me on my arrival was just how many peers were joining me in the induction. It really highlighted the size and ambition of the apprentice scheme, with the diversity of the cohort being noticeable immediately. I think this is one of the greatest strengths of the apprenticeship programme, enriching NPL with many different individuals from all parts of society. Some of which may have been lost to science or engineering otherwise, while acting as springboard for the business, IT, finance and digital marketing apprentices to launch their careers with greater success.

I also thought I’d be making a lot more tea with biscuits during my time, thankfully this hasn’t been the case at all. I’ve enjoyed conducting and reporting on calibrations across all the years of my apprenticeship, as well as the numerous side projects thrown my way which kept me busy. What’s even better is that paperwork is no longer the dark spectre that hung over me in my first year, not welcomed of course, but it has become reassurance that the science we produce and the calibrations we complete are to the highest standards and stand up to third party scrutiny. 

Throughout my time as an apprentice and beyond I have been fortunate to have received nothing but wholehearted support and the encouragement to improve so that I can continue to grow into to be the best scientist I can be. While I am very grateful to all those who helped me, I know that I am not alone in having this experience, it seems that the apprenticeship schemes have only got better with time for both the apprentices and the teams who host them.

I would encourage everyone to try to find some time to learn more about the current apprentice courses run at NPL and whether this is an alternative route into STEM for you or someone you know.

I’m looking forward to continuing my career in the Optical Radiation Metrology, learning along the away. It’s always quite hard to talk about yourself (especially in a public article) but if there is one thing to take away from this, is that I am very glad to have come to NPL. To have met all the lovely people around and hear about their great contributions to society they make and have the opportunity to perhaps one day do the same.

11 Feb 2022