Science Industry Partnership Case Study: a Kent apprentice’s journey from apprenticeship to PhD

Abbey Lightfoot, a Kent apprentice at UCB, was recently interviewed by Science Industry Partnership about her apprenticeship experience and career aspirations.

apprenticeship case study

After struggling with exams and getting support from her biology teacher, Abbey found out about apprenticeships. Following this, Abbey has gone on to pass her Level 6 apprenticeship with a BSc in Applied Biosciences.

Science Industry Partnership
Science Industry Partnership spoke to Abbey about her apprenticeship experience.

The apprenticeship experience

While Abbey initially worried that she would miss out on the social aspects of the university experience, she has found that the last five years have allowed her to have a great social life and be paid at the same time.  She has made friends at UCB, so doesn’t feel like she has missed out on anything.

One of the biggest benefits of the apprenticeship for Abbey was the assessment patterns.  As someone who struggled to perform under exam conditions, Abbey reflected that: ‘there was much more course work, so not the same level of exam pressure which suits me much better!’

The University of Kent’s apprenticeships focus on building real skills for the workplace, one of which includes presentation skills.  This benefitted Abbey hugely in applying for her PhD…

‘Feedback from my PhD application was that my presentation was exceptional, and I think this was in large part due to the experience I have had during my apprenticeship. I have had the opportunity to take theory and apply it on the bench to see how science works in real life, this is invaluable.’


Advice to other young people interested in a career in science

‘Be informed and know what your options are.’

Abbey considers herself fortunate to have been pointed towards the apprenticeship route, and wants to have a similar influence on others.  She has contributed to UCB’s Work in Science Week, which allows students to sample life as a scientist.

She is proud of her achievements, while also being grateful to those who have supported and empowered her by providing information about alternative options in education.  Abbey wants to support others in the same way, especially those who are not lucky enough to have support at home or school.

apprentice journey
Abbey described how grateful she is for the support and encouragement she has received during her time at UCB.

‘One of the things that has been so beneficial about my time at UCB is the outside speakers, from academia, and internal speakers from industry who have been so inspirational about the huge scientific and personal progression this career holds.’


Science Industry Partnership’s interview with Abbey Lightfoot can be found here:

More information about University of Kent’s degree apprenticeships are available here: