Liam Petrie STEM Ambassador

24 August 2018

Liam is an Automation Technician at a GSK manufacturing site in Montrose, Scotland. Liam explains the benefits of apprenticeships and how he became a STEM ambassador and ENTHUSE partnership lead.

         1.     Tell us about your apprenticeship and the benefits of doing an apprenticeship.

My apprenticeship stemmed from when I was in my fourth year at school. I had the opportunity to do work experience at the GSK site in Montrose. During this experience I rotated around several departments, all contributing to the day-to-day running of the site. The department that interested me the most was the engineering department, specifically the instrumentation department. This encouraged me to start considering apprenticeships and applying for one after school, which led to me successfully gaining an apprenticeship as an Instrumentation Apprentice.

The first year was ‘off the job training’. This involved going to a training group where I learned the basics of engineering as well as skills and techniques that allowed me to transition between school and an industrial workplace.

After this first year, I returned to site to continue with ‘on the job’ training. This included going onto site and assisting the tradesman with routine instrumentation work, progressively through the years taking on more responsibility with hands-on work.

During my apprenticeship I also attended college where I learnt the theory behind my trade.  This meant that I could earn whilst I learnt, which was one of the biggest things that attracted me to do an apprenticeship.

The GSK apprenticeship was a life changing experience that took me from school life to a real industry. As well as earning whilst I was learning, I experienced different things that I would never have experienced in my day-to-day life. A GSK apprenticeship was one of the best things I have ever done.

          2.     What is your current role at GSK?

My current role at GSK in Montrose is Automation Technician. I moved into this role after completing my apprenticeship. Part of my day-to-day role is shift site support, ensuring that the plant runs continuously and there are no automation breakdowns, from control systems to instruments. Also, part of my job is assisting the process engineers with any improvements to the systems. This is to make it easier for operators to improve the time it takes to make a batch. 

          3.     How did you become a STEM ambassador and what types of activities to you do?

All GSK apprentices are offered the opportunity to complete STEM ambassadors training. This allows us to be able to promote apprenticeships in local schools by attending career fairs and events, and it helps to promote STEM more broadly by giving students real-life industry insights. Following on from this, I decided to join the School Liaison Team on site. This involved working with local schools at community events, work experiences and lunch and learn events.

          4.     How did you get involved in the ENTHUSE partnership?

I got involved with the ENTHUSE partnership as part of my role in the School Liaison Team. This allows our site to support schools in our local area that want our specific help and allows us to promote STEM more broadly.

          5.     Why would you recommend ENTHUSE partnerships?

I would recommend the ENTHUSE partnership to anybody - it is a fantastic way to promote STEM in the local area. It is also a big opportunity to create links with local schools, which supports what we do and the way we use STEM in our day-to-day activities. It helps young people to understand what STEM is, how they can use it and what these subjects at school mean in the real world. It helps them to relate what they are doing in maths or technology classes to what happens in "real life" industry. It's an excellent opportunity for everyone involved.


To find out more about STEM Ambassadors, follow this link.

For more information about apprenticeships at GSK, click here.