Apprenticeships: A good step forward, but nothing new
They maybe much lauded, and rightly so, but apprenticeships in science are nothing new says Sir Terry Croft...
They maybe much lauded, and rightly so, but apprenticeships in science are nothing new says Terry Croft. He reminds us they have been achieving results for over 75 years, as he delves into a success story taking in war, painted curb stones and scientific achievement...
Modern apprenticeships are becoming very well-known and we are often told, rightly, how they can lead to excellent careers. And that is great – but is this new?
This personal story starts in 1943 when Basil Boam at the age of 16 started on his career pathway by becoming an apprentice at the University of Sheffield. This, however, was short lived. On turning 18, he was called up for active service. For the next three years he was busy being trained in the art of warfare including painting the barracks’ curb stones white. He eventually returned to the University in 1948 having completed his national service.
Over the coming years he developed many skills in physics, genetics and finally botany. Basil rose through the ranks and in 1972 became the Laboratory Superintendent in the Department of Botany. He held this position until his retirement in 1986. However he didn’t stop there and continued working part-time for the University’s Environmental Consultancy Services (ECUS) bringing a wealth of experience to this fledgling company which went on to achieve many successes.
[caption id="attachment_62595" align="alignnone" width="620"] Basil Boarn (middle) started as an apprentice at 16.[/caption]
In addition to his university duties, Basil was involved in a number of national groups including regional purchasing consortia and laboratory design initiatives. However he is still remembered today for his major role in creating UBMA (University Bioscience Managers’ Association). In 1983 Basil and David Smart (Laboratory Superintendent in the Department of Zoology) brought together bioscience managers from across the sector under the umbrella of The University Biological Supervisors’ Association (UBSA), eventually changing its name to UBMA in April 2000.
Basil has always been recognised by his peers for his contribution to the sector and has brought great recognition to the technical community throughout the UK. Hence the award of Honorary Fellow presented by the Institute of Science and Technology. This is a great story and example of how a technician’s career pathway has gone from starting at the Apprentice level and advancing to that of Laboratory Superintendent.
Terry Croft MBE, FIScT, CSci is Director of Technical Development & Modernisation at The University of Sheffield. He is also Chairman of the The Institute of Science and Technology.