Apprenticeship Case Study: Hannah Beska

“It’s not just a qualification, it’s lifelong friends and skills.”


1. Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

When I was working with the Students on campus, I felt that the questions I was being asked were quite difficult for me to explain, or that I didn’t understand the theory behind it well enough. I decided the best way to combat this was to physically do the same course that the students were doing, it would make me more knowledgeable and it would help me provide them with a better student experience as I actually understood and could explain things better to them.

A couple of areas of the course also have very little Technical Specialist knowledge so that part of the course relies heavily on the Demonstrator or the Academic member of staff explaining the theory to the students, whereas if I understood it I could fill that gap and help look after that area. I’m actively working with Academic Staff to read up on Research papers and hopefully will be attending an RSC approved training course in the Summer to make a start on plugging this gap ahead of term.

Not to mention having this paperwork and knowledge would also benefit me on my career path if I ever applied for a promotion.

2. What did you do before your apprenticeship?

Before my apprenticeship I was 18 and just about to finish my A levels. I had no idea what I really wanted to do except that it had to be something in Science. I didn’t know what course to do at Uni, I ended up wondering if there was something I could do as a job instead that would be able to get me into a science career until I decided where I wanted to go. That’s when my Mum actually spotted a 4 year apprenticeship at University of Nottingham which was in Chemical & Environmental Engineering back in 2011.

3. What have you gained from your apprenticeship?

Personally, I gained more than just qualifications (PTLLS, LV1 Diploma Performing Engineering Operations, LV3 BTECH Certificate Applied Science, NVQ Diploma LV3 Laboratory and Associated Technical Activities, HNC in Chemistry in Industry). I learnt valuable people and communication skills, I met people that have become lifelong friends, I took part in Research, I shaped Student’s future skills, I learnt how Health and Safety linked into my job role and my responsibilities within it, I learnt how to write all sorts of Process & Risk assessments/DSEAR/COSHH/CMSTR & Chemical recording and I helped design experiments to meet Student and Accreditation outcomes. As part of the course, I even met other people from Industries like Boots and got to visit their labs and see how they did things. We still collaborate on some topics and share ideas!

4. What are the benefits to completing an apprenticeship?

The qualification is the most obvious one, but actually you gain very important hands on skills which can’t necessarily be gained through University degree practicals. You also learn a huge amount of communication and people skills due to working with a diverse group of people within your place of work and outside of it. You also begin to truly appreciate how Health and safety works and how much work goes into Risk assessing and protecting Staff at work.

You get the chance to meet other Apprentices in other companies and like me you could visit their workplaces and collaborate in the future.

Another benefit is if you complete an apprenticeship with a Company, they pay for it so you learn, get hands on experience and still get a pay check every month.

5. Which organisation do you work for and what are your roles and responsibilities?

Currently I work for NTU (Nottingham Trent University) and I am a Technical Specialist for Physical Chemistry.

I am responsible for ensuring all laboratories that fall under Phys chem run without any issues. This means I test my labs out before they run in term time, I maintain instruments and liaise with companies to cover repairs, I train demonstrators and new staff on the methods and instruments for the area, I help research with developing methods and/or running samples on the instruments, I help demonstrate these labs to students, I maintain stocks and order all consumables and chemicals required, and I work with Academic staff in the modification of lab methods and the purchase and training on new equipment.

6. Where do you see yourself after your apprenticeship has completed?

When I had finished my first apprenticeship, I had learnt a lot and I felt that being a Technical Specialist was where I wanted my career path to go.

This means I know a particular set of instruments or set of methods and I am the go to person for this information. I would be continuously involved with up to date and new methods/research. I could help with ensuring that knowledge area was always up to expected standards and learning outcomes, and if not I knew how to remedy that. It also helped a lot with training as well. It means I could train another Technician or Research staff member in detail rather than them having snippets from lots of people and no way to really mesh that training together which is something I struggled with when I was being trained.

Career Information to-date:

2011 – University of Nottingham Apprenticeship

2015 – University of Nottingham Analytical Laboratory Technician in Chemical & Environmental Engineering (After successfully completing my apprenticeship)

2018 – NTU Laboratory Technician

2020 – NTU Technical Specialist in Physical Chemistry

2021 – NTU Technical Specialist in Physical Chemistry – applied for Degree Apprenticeship in Chemistry, waiting to hear back if I am successful

Hannah Beska, RSci