Education Secretary visits Teesside University to celebrate apprentices

09 February 2024


The Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, has visited Teesside University’s National Horizons Centre this National Apprenticeship Week to discuss the important role of apprenticeships in the advanced therapies industry.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan (left) at Teesside University's National Horizons Centre.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan (left) at Teesside University's National Horizons Centre.

Ms Keegan visited the £22.3m national centre of excellence for the bioscience and healthcare sector to attend a meeting with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult), an independent innovation and technology organisation specialising in the advancement of cell and gene therapies.

The meeting highlighted how apprenticeships are upskilling people all around the country and providing valuable support for the advanced therapies industry as it continues to grow.

According to an industry survey carried out on behalf of CGT Catapult in 2023, the advanced therapies sector is expecting its workforce to grow by 63% by 2028, and apprentices are an important part of this growth.

Teesside University is a leading provider of professional apprenticeships, with a portfolio of over 40 qualifications, and has been awarded an Outstanding Ofsted rating for its higher apprenticeships. At the National Horizons Centre, the Secretary of State met with apprentices and businesses that are currently taking part in the CGT Catapult’s Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community (ATAC), including Pharmaron, FujiFilm and CPI.

The ATAC programme, which was set up in 2018, is specifically designed to train individuals to work in the advanced therapies industry. It was the first apprenticeship programme anywhere in the world to have this focus and, to date, 345 apprentices have enrolled across 58 employers.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “Apprenticeships open doors to a range of exciting careers in our booming biosciences and healthcare sectors, so it’s great to see a dynamic organisation like CGT Catapult investing in future talent this National Apprenticeship Week. “The North East of England has a great tradition of industry and innovation, and apprenticeships are bringing that can-do spirit of hard graft into the 21st century, enabling people to pursue careers at the cutting edge of science and technology without necessarily needing to take on student debt.”

Apprenticeships open doors to a range of exciting careers in our booming biosciences and healthcare sectors

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan

Professor Craig Gaskell, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise & Knowledge Exchange) at Teesside University, welcomed the Secretary of State to the National Horizons Centre.

He said: “Teesside University recognises the vital role that apprenticeships play in providing the vital skills that are needed to deliver economic growth in this region and beyond.

“We are very proud of our extensive professional apprenticeship portfolio which has been developed in partnership with business to ensure that we are developing graduate talent which will make an immediate impact in the workplace.

“We were delighted to welcome Gillian Keegan to our National Horizons Centre and showcase the work we are doing to grow the region’s bioscience sector through quality training and applied research.”

Matthew Durdy, Chief Executive of the CGT Catapult, said: “Apprenticeships provide excellent opportunities for people of all ages to gain hands-on experience and the skills they need to progress in their careers, including within the advanced therapies sector. For employers, apprenticeships are a fantastic route to upskill their workforce and ensure they have access to the expertise they need to support future growth. We would like to thank the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, for her continued recognition of the value of apprenticeships and the difference they can make to people’s careers.”

In the News

UK's Education Secretary joins CGT Catapult to celebrate apprentices
Drug Discovery World, Web, 13/02/2024
The UK’s Education Secretary Gillian Keegan attended a meeting with CGT Catapult to discuss the role of apprenticeships in the advanced therapies industry. 

Education Secretary joins Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult to celebrate apprentices
Pharmiweb, Web, 09/02/2024
At the National Horizons Centre, Keegan met with apprentices and businesses.