Charlotte Cartwright is a Level 5 Laboratory Scientist Apprentice, who works for Merlin Powder Characterisation. Unlike the majority of Level 5 Laboratory Scientist Apprentices who choose to study at a university, Charlotte did an HND in Applied Chemistry at Halesowen College. 

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As part of both her HND and EPA, she did a particularly good work-related project which will make a significant contribution to understanding of the testing and formulation services that her company can provide, to sectors like pharmaceuticals and paint. 


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Apprenticeship project that makes a real impact

Pharmaceutical tablets contain a number of ingredients ore excipients which are used to help get the new medicine to where it is needed inside the patient.  Once class of these excipients are disintegrants which help the tablet work faster.  

There are a wide range of different disintegrants available, and Charlotte’s project was based around comparing the performance of a selection. The information will be useful to formulation scientists who can use the knowledge gained to pick the best option for their new medicines.

Charlotte had to research and source these materials and perform tests on them all to understand their material properties. The results will be used by the business to further our understanding and to help our customers make better choices.  

Elaine Stone, who supervises Charlotte at Merlin Powder Characterisation, said: 

“It has been a rewarding experience watching Charlotte tackle new tasks and grow in confidence. She has surprised us by the speed and breadth of her progress and is a valuable member of the team.  I think if we had told Charlotte on day one that she would be presenting her data at an international pharmaceutical conference she would not have believed us. “

Apprenticeship delivery at Halesowen College

The apprenticeship programme at Halesowen College is delivered one day per week, and the remaining four days Charlotte worked at Merlin.

During the first lockdown period, all HND lessons were delivered remotely and the apprenticeship was carried out through the online portfolio called Onefile. Here evidence could be uploaded and marked remotely along with monthly calls and regular email contact to ensure engagement and support during such unusual times. 

For Merlin, the programme is a great way to developing their staff. Elaine said: 

“The apprenticeship scheme is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who has a desire for learning but prefers hands on training to get an opportunity to enter the career route of their choice.  We look forward to seeing where this takes us next.”

Apprenticeship as a route to a successful career

Gemma Eves, Laboratory Sciences apprenticeship assessor for Halesowen College, who assessed Charlotte through the Level 3 Laboratory Technician apprenticeship with HNC Chemistry route and then progressing onto and completing the Laboratory Scientist apprenticeship with HND Chemistry, said:  

“Over the past 4 years Charlotte has gained the skills and knowledge required to be successful within the industry and I have observed her grow in confidence and become an invaluable member of the team. Charlotte has a wonderful, exciting career to look forward to.”

Charlotte had a great experience studying towards the HND Applied Chemistry as part of a Level 5 Laboratory Scientist Apprenticeship at Halesowen College. Charlotte said:

“Halesowen college have been incredibly supportive throughout the whole process, as well has offering a HND program with a variety of subjects. I’ve gained many transferable skills throughout, especially with the project unit offered, which has helped me personally and professionally progress further in my career.’