Technical Apprentice Case Study - Michael Dawson

09 February 2024

Name: Michael Dawson

Employer: Loughborough University

Role: Apprentice Technician (Science)

Level: 3

Time in role/time remaining: 

6 months into a two-year course.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

At the age of 50, I felt that I wasn’t done with learning but that my job had become quite stale. I knew that I would need quality training to learn something completely different and began to look for apprenticeships.

What are your roles and responsibilities? 

As an apprentice science technician, I am part of the technical team that supports analytical and physical chemistry undergraduate teaching in my current placement. I also support the synthetic lab when needed. This could be preparing glassware and chemicals for an experiment, testing an experiment for myself or programming and maintaining various pieces of equipment.

What did you do before your apprenticeship? 

I was a Primary School Teacher for 24 years.

What have you gained from your apprenticeship? 

A different outlook, completely new hands-on experiences and a revived interest in my career. 

What are the benefits to completing an apprenticeship over other pathways choices (eg: A-Levels)? 

Hands-on experience – I learn better by doing things.

Where do you see yourself after your apprenticeship is completed?

I would like a career as a technician, working in a science lab. My current employer has been brilliant, and I would definitely be interested in any openings here. 

Did anything surprise you about your apprenticeship? If so, what?

I did assume that although working in a lab with a lot of chemicals and expensive equipment, I wouldn’t get much experience in working with it. From day one, I was happily proved wrong.

What support has been valuable to you? What tips would you give to apprentice managers?

I feel that line managers in my placement have allowed me to be hands-on from day 1 and have trusted me to be self-improving. This has benefited me enormously and allowed me to grow into the role. I think investing trust in an apprentice is invaluable to their self-confidence and will enable learning conversations to develop.

Do you have any advice to others who are considering an apprenticeship?

I would recommend it to someone who learns best by having a go, doing things for themselves and wishes to enjoy their learning. That if they take advantage of every opportunity offered and seek out new experiences: not only will they have a career but a great deal of job-satisfaction. In my experience, that is priceless.