National Physical Laboratory joins The 5% Club


The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has joined The 5% Club and committed to the aim of ensuring that 5% of its UK workforce are apprentices, graduates or sponsored students on structured programmes within the next five years.

According to the most recent Labour Market Statistics, there are 740,000 unemployed 16- 24 year olds in the UK. Only one in ten young people join an apprentice scheme on leaving school. By joining the 5% Club, NPL aims to address the twin scarcities of youth training opportunities and national skills, and in so doing boost the UK’s growth agenda.

Brian Bowsher, NPL’s Managing Director, said: “I am immensely proud of the significant contribution that NPL’s graduates and apprentices make to our scientific research and the real world impact it has. As well as our staff who are apprentices and graduates working on structured programmes, NPL also sponsors over 100 graduate and postgraduate students from universities across the UK and internationally. The professional skills developed through this and similar schemes are crucial to the UK’s continued success in scientific research and innovation.”

We spoke to a few of NPL’s bright and talented young people to hear about their experiences at NPL and why they chose to do an apprenticeship.

Patrick Backhouse

IMG_2323“I have been working for a couple of months at NPL as a junior scientist and in that time I have learnt so much about physics and the science industry in general. I have worked on several different calibrations within the optical measurement group, there I have been managing my own workload, carrying out measurements, completing analysis and creating calibration certificates. I also have been performing NPL’s branded “Polystyrene Wavenumber” standard calibrations, a standard of calibrated transmittance minima for customers to calibrate their machines.

I had finished college when I applied for my role at NPL, I concluded that the experience would be more fulfilling than completing a degree. Aside from the prescribed advanced apprenticeship scheme, I have been trained to use lots of scientific equipment, complete multiple industrial processes and even been taught soft skills. Since joining NPL, I feel confident in my abilities to do my job, act professionally and serve a greater purpose than just my own. “

Tierney Perez-Drummy

IMG_2332“When I joined the NPL apprenticeship, I had just finished my GCSE’s. Whilst I have been here, I have been working in the Quantum Detection group, Microwave and Humidity groups, as well as working towards a Level 3 BTEC in applied science. In my latest group, I have been calibrating hygrometers in humidity chambers, from set up to finishing off the certificate and sending it off to customers.

The main reason I joined NPL was the idea of gaining experience in the world of work, as well as a qualification. The experience that I have gained here will help me further down the line, whether I decide to stay here at NPL, if they offer me a job or if I look for a job elsewhere. Plus, the idea that I’m going to be paid to learn didn’t seem too bad.”

Kieran Edmonds

IMG_2344“I joined NPL in September 2013 after completing my A levels. Since then I have worked in two separate departments within NPL. The first was the Temperature group, where I worked with professional scientists who taught me how to properly calibrate both contact and ranged thermometers using the countries standards. After my first placement was completed, I moved into the Quantum Detection Group, where I was placed in charge of my own research project in producing Cryogenic Current Comparators that have a removable casing and are easy to reproduce. Within the first 6 months of my time within the department, I built a working prototype. The QD team then asked me to stay within the group and extended my time with them for an additional six months.

I was unsure of what career to pursue once I finished my A levels, I knew I wanted to do something scientific so I decided to come to NPL to see what it would be like. I’m pleased to say that my time at NPL has been well spent! I’ve learned a large amount of new skills and these will make me a highly employable individual in the future. I now plan to continue my studies in order to gain a better understanding of the work I do for NPL, to enable me to contribute more to both my team and the company as a whole.”

Stan Smith

“I joined the National Physical Laboratory’s Apprenticeship program in September 2014 IMG_2348 after completing my A-levels. From the very start I was involved in lab work, learning new skills through hands on experience. I am currently working on a project which is testing new coatings for the inside of biofuel combustion chambers, which allows me to utilise all the different skills I have picked up since joining, including both optical and electron microscopy. Alongside my work, I am also completing an Advanced Laboratory Technician level 3 BTEC, as well as a Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Laboratory and Associated Technical Activities.

I chose this apprenticeship because of the incredible facilities that NPL has, as well as their excellent reputation as a metrology institute, and a chance to get hands on experience here was a perfect alternative to university for me.”

Melvis Usideme

“I joined NPL in September 2014 as an Apprentice Junior Scientist. Since joining I’m always given the opportunity to support and work with senior scientists, assisting in a range of laboratory duties, general administrative tasks and scientific research. My practical experience is backed up with my previous A-Levels in Chemistry, Biology and Maths as well as the BTEC and NVQ programme that we are working on.

IMG_2365As well as working on my technical skills, the Apprenticeship programme allows me to work on and learn new interpersonal, teamwork and communication skills. I feel that I have support from the more senior scientist to help me grow in this new role and develop as a well-rounded scientist and individual.

I was attracted to the NPL by its renown and expertise in most of the fields it focuses on; the chance presented to me to become a part of this was something I appreciated highly. The training provided also offers an alternate route to becoming a registered research scientist.”

For more information about NPL’s Advanced Apprenticeship please click here and to find out more about NPL Careers click here.

To find out more information about The 5% Club and how to become a member, please visit or get in touch by Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well!



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