ATAC: Cameron Hughes

Cameron Hughes is securing a career as a level 3 science manufacturing technician apprentice with ATAC, working for Freeline Therapeutics 


Cameron was studying towards his A-levels at sixth form but quickly realised that this learning environment was not the right fit for him. Despite having good GCSE grades, he found his preferred way of learning to be applying first-hand knowledge, skills and theory back into the job role.

By actively searching for alternative options to the traditional school to university route, Cameron discovered the opportunities to study for a recognised qualification while remaining in the workplace through the website.

The blend of on-the-job training and off-the-job learning was exactly what Cameron was looking for and encouraged him to apply as a level 3 science manufacturing technician apprentice.


The impact: A learning environment that nurtures an apprentice’s ambition

Through the ATAC apprenticeship programme, Cameron was given the opportunity to make a direct contribution to the company’s success and feel valued by being involved with the set-up of a new laboratory, the validation of equipment within it, and the writing of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Cameron says: “It has been really exciting as I have been able to see everything from the beginning. I have also been trusted to write SOPs. That has given me a real sense of achievement because my name is written at the top of the document as the author and people within the lab will follow it. That demonstrates trust in my capabilities, which I am proud of.”

Furthermore, through the additional support and activities such as networking events and webinars organised by the ATAC programme to support apprentices in gaining wider industry knowledge, Cameron was able to make the right connections to pave the way for his progression into the next level of his career.

“ATAC is the reason I want to progress onto the level 5 apprenticeship; they have made the connections with others and the next steps easy. Previous apprentices have delivered webinars on end-point assessment, which has been useful because I am about to take mine.

“The ATAC events have been brilliant too—the guest speakers are amazing. The session with Kate Bingham [Former chair of the UK Vaccines Taskforce] during National Apprenticeship Week was inspirational.”


The outcome: Enhanced skills and experience attained through working with an SME as an apprentice

By providing the partnership between Freeline Therapeutics and the training provider CSR Group, ATAC has acted as a partner to this tripartite relationship, helping Cameron to maximise his potential for success in his apprenticeship and become industry-ready, providing an environment where he could see how theory works in practice.

Cameron said: “Apprentices are supported and you are treated as a valuable member of the team. Anyone can do a degree­—not everyone can do an apprenticeship. It is a real opportunity to secure a career within the industry.”

Joining the apprenticeship course has given Cameron the opportunity to gain the same qualification as if he had decided on a sixth form course, with the advantage that this one was without any debts but instead being paid a salary and working alongside experts in the industry.

ATAC has also been instrumental in providing the additional support that apprentices need by helping apprentices acclimatise to their new workplace, building their confidence in working with senior members of the company, offering advice to apprentices on how to handle apprenticeship matters with their manager, and providing a better understanding of the apprenticeship programme.

“CSR Group [apprenticeship training provider] and studying towards the BTEC has been brilliant. It’s different to studying at sixth form because you feel comfortable in asking questions and they always expand to explain how the theory works in practice.”


The next steps

Cameron enjoys working for Freeline Therapeutics and intends to progress onto the level 5 technician scientist apprenticeship programme when he completes his level 3 end-point assessment.


About the level 3 science manufacturing technician apprenticeship

A science manufacturing technician will operate the systems and equipment, involved in the production of advanced therapy products. They may work in varied conditions including wearing specialist safety equipment, shift work, research and development, or on commercial sites running 365-day operations under highly regulated conditions. A premium is placed on appropriate attitudes and behaviours to ensure employees comply with organisational safety and regulatory requirements. Technicians are expected to work both individually and as part of a manufacturing team, with minimum supervision, taking responsibility for the quality and accuracy of the work they undertake. They are proactive in finding solutions to problems and identifying areas for improving their own work.

This programme is at level 3 and delivered through CSR Group for 18 to 30 months. Typical job roles may include: Aseptic process technician, API manufacturing technician, cleanroom technician, process operating technician, quality assurance technician, science technician, environmental monitoring technician.


About Freeline Therapeutics

Freeline is a clinical-stage, fully integrated, next-generation, systemic AAV-based gene therapy company with the ambition of transforming the lives of patients suffering from inherited systemic debilitating diseases.


Supported by the Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community (ATAC)

Advanced therapies apprentices enjoy access to a wide variety of support provided by ATAC, including:

  • Access to learning resources and technical webinars from industry experts
  • Optional cohort days for apprentices from different organisations to meet, share their experiences and collaborate
  • Advice for professional development, such as presenting and networking
  • Membership to a network of apprentices, employers, and training providers across advanced therapies
  • Access to the ATAC App for further information, resources, community connections and more.


Developing skills and employability for the future

ATAC has prioritised a range of programmes, from entry-level to master’s-equivalent apprenticeships, to bring in new talent and upskill staff for the rapidly growing UK cell and gene therapy industry. The number of ATAC apprentices more than doubled in one year, now standing at 136 apprentices employed across 36 UK companies, and the initiative continues to provide a platform for developing industry innovators of the future.


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