GSK Lab Technician Apprentice Recognised with Awards!

Name: Ellie Stephen

Type of Apprenticeship: Lab Technician Apprentice (2nd Year)

Company: GSK Montrose

Sector: Pharmaceuticals


Eillie Stephen is currently undertaking a Laboratory Technician Modern Apprenticeship with GSK in Montrose. Currently in her second year of a 3-year apprenticeship. Ellie’s outstanding work ethic and attitude has been recognised more widely having recently won an SQA award for ‘High Achievement & Development’ and another for “Outstanding Endeavour”. Ellie collected both awards from Dundee & Angus College at an end of year awards event and her achievement has given her an extra confidence boost as she progresses through her Modern Apprenticeship.

As part of #Science week for our #DYWDASummerSectors campaign, Ross from the DYW team managed to have a chat with Ellie and ask her about her motivations for entering the sector and her experience and career so far:

Q. What made you pursue a career in the Science sector?

I had a real interest in Science throughout High School and chose various science subjects. I attended Montrose Academy and as GSK have really close links with the school and the community in Montrose, I had the opportunity to go into the facility and gain some work experience in the labs, which was great. It was very competitive to get a place on this work experience and we had to submit our CV’s to GSK before we would even be considered. Having this first taste of the sector was a great experience and gave me a really good insight into the company and what it was like to work there.

Q. What pathway did you take to get your Modern Apprenticeship?

I decided to stay on and finish my 6th year at school before applying for the position. As GSK are a global company, the competition for places is very high and there is a 4 step recruitment process. Stage 1 involves completing an online application form. Stage 2 involves you answering questions around why you match the values of GSK as a company. In stage 3 you had to complete an online maths test, then in Stage 4 you finally came in for an Assessment day. This was very rigorous as you had to deliver a presentation, carry out an observed experiment and had a formal interview. This was a challenge but I proved myself and got the job!

Q. What would you say is the best thing about working in the sector?

I would say that the experience you gain every day is the best thing about working in the sector. Every day you are gaining more experience of working in a professional team and can learn from colleagues that know the role inside out. Another thing that is great about working in the sector is that every day is different and the work is extremely varied, which I like.

Q. What does your average day look like in your job?

Well, every day is different but it could start off with coming into the lab and planning out the analysis that we are going to carry out that day. I work on the quality and imperfections side of the lab, so I test our products that are used to make medicines to ensure that they are up to the highest possible standard, looking for impurities etc. before they are shipped out to the next stage of the process.

Q. What skills would you say you need to work in this industry?

I would say that your communication skills, analytical skills, team work and timekeeping are the most important. You can learn all of the technical side of the job once you are in the role and you gain experience. However, having the ability to communicate clearly, work to deadlines and work in a team are the most important things I would say.

Q. What skills have you learned since starting your Apprenticeship?

I have developed all of my skills! From a technical point of view, I am now able to carry out complex analysis that I would never have been able to do when I started out on my apprenticeship, which has allowed my confidence to grow massively. As well as just working in the lab and learning the job, GSK are also excellent at developing and training their staff. All of us as apprentices from different departments get to be involved in our community give-back days ‘Orange Days’ and we go away to team building trips in England to develop our skills even further, which is excellent! I also get involved with visiting local high schools and speaking to young people about GSK as an organisation and the benefits of undertaking an apprenticeship, which I really enjoy.

Q. I understand you have been winning awards recently? Congratulations! Can you tell us about those?

Yeah at the end of June I attended an awards ceremony at Dundee & Angus college attended by students and lecturers. I was nominated for awards and was lucky to win two! I won the SQA award for ‘High Achievement and Development’ and another for ‘Outstanding Endeavour’. I was really proud to win these awards and it’s nice that my hard work throughout my apprenticeship was recognised.

Q. What are your future career aspirations?

I can see myself always working within the sector as I really enjoy the type of work I am involved in every day, knowing that you are making a difference and contributing towards producing medicines that will save people’s lives. That is really rewarding. I don’t know what the future will hold but at the moment I am focusing on completing my apprenticeship to the best of my ability and learning as much as I can in the next year with the hope of securing a role within GSK’s lab team.

Q. What advice would you give a young person thinking about a career in the sector?

I would say believe in yourself. I personally never thought that I would be able to do a job like this when I was at school, but you don’t realise just how many people will help and support you if you show a real interest and have the right attitude to succeed. I think undertaking an apprenticeship is a great route to start your career as you get experience on the job, you get excellent training and you also get paid, which is brilliant! There are so many opportunities out there within the sector so my advice would be to go for it.

Get Involved

If you are an employer who would like to showcase your outstanding apprentices, promote your apprentice opportunities and raise the profile of your sector, then please get in touch with our DYW Dundee & Angus Team for more information. We would be delighted to hear from you! You can contact the team on 01382 443409 or at