Darrell Cobon RSci, Senior Laboratory Technician
Why did you decide to apply for an apprenticeship?
After college I started a degree in biochemistry but I decided to step back, as it didn’t feel right for me. I took some time to consider whether other options may meet my hopes and expectations better. I used the apprenticeship government website to search for science, engineering and laboratory-based apprenticeships. From this I found, applied, interviewed and secured a Level 3 Laboratory Technician apprenticeship studying at the University of Nottingham within the Food Science department.
How did your apprenticeship impact your career path?
My level 3 apprenticeship was a 4 year programme made up of 2 years completing the Level 3 apprenticeship, that included a BTEC, and then the option to extend a further 2 years for a Higher National Diploma (HND). On completion of the apprenticeship I researched other apprenticeship options, as the method of learning on and off the job worked well for me.
Instead of the HND, I researched Degree Apprenticeships and found a Level 6 Integrated Degree Apprenticeship ‘Food Industry Technical Professional’, being delivered by Nottingham Trent University. I presented this option to my employer, who agreed to extend my employment as a Level 6 apprentice. After completing this apprenticeship I have very recently started a Level 7 Research Scientist apprenticeship with the provision from Aston University.
This progression, from Level 3 to a Level 6 degree apprenticeship, and now a Level 7 apprenticeship, has all been the result of utilising the apprenticeship system, and a supportive employer along the way. The apprenticeships have delivered scientific theory and knowledge, with experience of its application within a work setting. I have also benefitted from gaining wider business awareness, which is useful, as in my role I engage with companies across the food industry.
What skills or experiences did you value most from working as an apprentice?
My employer (University of Nottingham) has been great in giving me the time away from the pressures of day-to-day work, to complete assignments and other off-the-job learning activities. I have attended day release, block release and online as part of my progression in learning.
I have had access to valuable shadowing opportunities with more experienced staff, especially with one highly experienced staff member coming up to their retirement. On her retirement I took on the role as a seamless continuation of that work needed within the Food Science department.
What would you say to individuals who are thinking about starting an apprenticeship?
I would definitely encourage others to look at the option of apprenticeships, but you need to be willing to explore and research to find out about apprenticeships and the available placements. There are so many apprenticeship available. It just takes a little time and effort to find them.
What were the key motivations that led to you applying for professional registration (RSci)?
It was a way to gain post-nominals that recognises me as a Scientist. It demonstrates that I work in a particular way, with care and high standards. It also shows to my current employer and for my future career, my personal commitment to continuously developing and progressing my applied skills and abilities.
How did you find out about the apprenticeship shortened applications?
One of my colleagues shared the opportunity to attend an online workshop to find out more about how to apply using the apprenticeship shortened route. My Level 6 ‘Food Industry Technical Profession’ entitled me to apply for Registered Scientist. The information shared during this workshop, and the access to an online resource of supportive information, made the application process quick and easy to follow, with step-by-step tasks and guidance.
What do you value most from being a member of your professional body?
It’s great to have access to a network of people and resources with the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST). I value the information I regularly receive on events that I can attend both online and in-person – it’s a good blend of activities on offer and really helps to expand my knowledge and understanding of key issues in the Food Industry today. There’s also a great focus on continuing professional development, so It’s encouraging for someone like me who wants opportunities to learn and develop my career in this sector.
Employer – University Of Nottingham
IFST Statement –
“The food and beverage industry is comprised of people from very diverse professional backgrounds. We are happy to be able to support professionals like Darrell who follow their passion and who have grown professionally within the industry. By earning his qualifications while on the job, and achieving his Professional Registration level through the Science Council, Darrel is a great example of the huge opportunities the food industry offers. We are delighted that Darrel has chosen IFST as his professional body to continue his development and growth within our Food Science and Technology community”