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Would 'bioinformatics apprentice at Illumina' suit you?


By Mike Scialom


Illumina is looking for an apprentice in the field of bioinformatics
Illumina is looking for an apprentice in the field of bioinformatics

Illumina, the genomics company which has its EMEA headquarters in Granta Park, is looking for a new bioinformatics apprentice who will "will help shape not only the business from the ground up, but also mould the field of bioinformatics itself".

Starting in September, the apprentice will study part-time with Anglian Ruskin University (ARU) on a blended course, combining online study with face-to-face lectures at ARU’s Cambridge campus once a week. In parallel, they will experience first-hand what it is like to work in a medical laboratory with Illumina scientists, software developers, analysts and data quality professionals. The position is advertised on the company’s website.

An apprenticeship is open to everyone and it not always at degree level (Level 6). Illumina has a mixture of apprentices studying from Level 3 up to level 7 (Masters). The company welcomes applications at any stage of their life, from A level students to someone wanting to retrain: the criterion is that it must be considered as new learning.

The student will be one of eight apprentices in the company, joining others across finance, IT and engineering, with another currently being recruited in engineering. In parallel with its increased employee hiring in recent years, driven by its tremendous business growth, Illumina has itself struggled to identify the best qualified and skilled bioinformaticians for the past few years.

Illumina at the Cambridge Science Festival. Picture: Simon Ogle
Illumina at the Cambridge Science Festival. Picture: Simon Ogle

In an effort to create a cadre of talented bioinformaticians coming through the ranks, it has joined forces with Anglia Ruskin University - which has now established a degree-level bioinformatics apprenticeship course - to offer a new bioinformatics apprenticeship. The benefits to the apprentice are twofold: at the end of the course, the apprentice will not only have a degree in bioinformatics but they will be debt free because Illumina will pay their fees and, secondly, they will have four years of work experience with the global leader in genomics under their belt, positioning them optimally to enter the workplace.

Genomics – understanding the order, structure and function of DNA within organisms - is an industry at the intersection of biology and technology. Within this, the discipline of bioinformatics is rapidly becoming a principle catalyst and there is a hungry demand for those talented in this work. Whereas fledgling bioinformaticians often started their careers as biologists or computer scientists teaching themselves the cross over discipline, we are starting to see academic instructions offering formal training dedicated to bioinformatics.

Becki Edwards, senior director HR at Illumina EMEA, said: “The world of bioinformatics is a complex one. The vast number of programming languages available, combined industry experience required means that we spend a lot of time searching for and interviewing candidates. For us, there are several benefits of the Apprenticeship, principle among which is fostering a sustainable pipeline of talent that helps us to shape the company for the future in an area of skill shortages, and also creates development opportunities for talented people to join the genomics industry.”



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