Last month Naina Chavda, HSL’s Flow Cytometry Scientific Lead, was invited to talk to parents and students at Westminster Kingsway College about alternative options to university.
“A degree isn’t necessary to build a successful career in healthcare science,” says Naina. “There are lots of bright, passionate young people out there who want to work in a laboratory but for whatever reason do not want to go to university. I think it’s important to raise awareness of apprenticeships and other alternatives to university which often carry a whole host of benefits.”
HSL’s apprenticeship scheme launched last year, and Naina herself manages two new apprentices.
“During my talk I explained what we do at HSL and what we look for in young people applying to the scheme. I answered a lot of questions about diagnostics in general – pathology tends to be a hidden science so many people are unaware of its role and reach.”
Another big question was the nature of HSL’s apprenticeship scheme: exactly how science-based is it? For Naina, it depends on the interests of that particular apprentice and the department in which they are placed.
“All HSL apprentices will learn the same core skills wherever they work,” says Naina. “However, in our department we also encourage them to learn how to set up analysers and run them, which means they gain quite a bit of specialist scientific knowledge as well.”
The apprenticeship scheme has been a real success so far. “All our apprentices finish the scheme as fully qualified medical laboratory assistants,” says Naina. “It works well for everyone – all our apprentices are guaranteed a job at the end of their placement which means we can train and retain the brightest talent.”
Interested in becoming an apprentice at HSL? Shakai shares her experience here.