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From Apprentice to Scientist

We undertake excellent science and engineering to deliver extraordinary impact for the UK and provide the measurement capability that underpins the UK’s prosperity and quality of life; approx. 75% of our 1,000 workforce are technical staff who both develop new measurement science for the challenges the UK faces including climate change, low carbon technology and an ageing society, and who disseminate the wide range of commercial measurement services we have developed. 

Our success is based on our staff. Since 2014 we have had an established Apprenticeship Scheme, offering Level 3 apprenticeships in Science, Metrology, Engineering, IT, Finance, Digital Marketing and Business Administration. In 2019 we recruited our 100th apprentice. Most apprentices work directly in scientific areas. Apprentices are trained on our measurement services and rotate around science teams to gain real-life experience for the working environment. The majority of our apprentices have accepted full-time roles when they complete their programmes; some have gone on to study at university.  

NPL’s Training Team hold ESFA-approved training provider status and are on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers, enabling the team to train NPL-employed apprentices and those from other companies. NPL developed the curriculum materials for the Metrology Apprenticeship Standard programme, to enable a new pipeline of sought-after talent to the industry to contribute to the long-term success of the metrology profession and the economy. In 2017 we welcomed our first cohort of learners to Teddington where over their three-year programme they were able to spend time in the teaching laboratory exploring all aspects of metrology, with access to our expert scientists with an emphasis on practical skills. This cohort graduated in January 2021, completing both on and off the job training and demonstrating their metrology skills and knowledge. Those apprentices directly employed by NPL have secured permanent positions as Junior Research Scientists. An additional learner cohort from Jaguar Landrover successfully completed their studies in 2020 using NPL’s materials at Make UK’s Technology Hub in Aston, Birmingham.

There is financial help available for employers who want to employ an apprentice. If you do not pay the levy, you only need to pay 5% towards the cost of training and assessing your apprentice. You need to agree to a payment schedule with the training provider and pay them directly for the training. The Government will pay the rest (95%) up to the funding band maximum, directly to the training provider.

You could be eligible for extra funding depending on both your and your apprentice’s circumstances.

If your company pays the levy, you’ll receive funds to spend on training and assessing your apprentices. The government will add 10%.

As of July 2021, there is an incentive payment for new apprentices who join your organisation. You can claim £3,000 for apprentices who start between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021.  The closing date for applications is 30 November 2021.

More information on funding support (and details of how funding varies across the UK devolved nations) can be found here –

If you would like further information about the Level 3 Metrology Technician Apprenticeship programme, please contact


About Alison Rooker, Apprenticeship Lead – Training.

Bio – As part of the NPL Training team, I manage our Metrology Apprenticeship Programme, ensuring that we deliver high quality programmes for our learners and working with employers to understand their requirements for their apprentices. It is my job to ensure we are delivering quality teaching in line with Ofsted guidance and are compliant to the funding rules set by the ESFA. It is a hugely rewarding role working with the NPL team and seeing our learners grow in confidence and skills.