Pharmaceutical company strikes gold with award-winning apprentice Evan

Global pharmaceutical manufacturing and packaging services company PCI Pharma Services struck gold when apprentice laboratory analyst Evan Coombs joined the business through the Aspire Blaenau Gwent Shared Apprenticeship Programme.

Evan, 19, from Blaenavon, was a gold medallist in the Laboratory Technician category at the Skills Competition Wales earlier this year and has saved his employer time and money with the data he gathered for a continuous improvement project.

The project has resulted in two technicians being employed by PCI Pharma Services on a 12 month contract.

Now Evan has been shortlisted for the Tomorrow’s Talent Award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2022. The winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on November 10.

The awards highlight the outstanding achievements, during unprecedented times, of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.

Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Headline sponsor for the third year is Openreach.

Evan, who is working towards a Laboratory and Science Technicians Apprenticeship delivered by Coleg y Cymoedd, is employed jointly by PCI Pharma Services and Aspire Blaenau Gwent. He is also studying a Higher National Certificate Level 4 in Applied Chemistry at Gower College Swansea.

Praised for his excellent work, Evan is already working to the standard of an industry Level 1 analyst and works overtime to ensure that lifesaving medication is delivered to the market ahead of time and that financial targets are met by the department where he works.

“I have seen Evan grow in a short period of time to become a fully functioning, capable analyst within the first year of his apprenticeship,” said Danielle Davies, PCI’s stability team leader.
“His achievements have all been due to his devotion to learning and the will to do well. He has completed each task to 100% of his capabilities and hit all goals and objectives set.”

Despite doing well in his A-Levels, Evan was uncertain about going to university due to threat of further remote learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The apprenticeship with Aspire and PCI has allowed him to use his knowledge and skills, gain experience, further his education and develop a career.

“I really enjoy my job because it involves doing something different every day and it allows me to put into practice everything that I am learning,” he added. “My ambition is to keep progressing with PCI.”

Responding to his shortlisting for the Tomorrow’s Talent award at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2022, Evan said: “It came as a bit of a shock, but it’s nice to be recognised.”

Lena Shipley, a Coleg y Cymoedd tutor, said: “Evan’s skills and confidence have grown significantly over the first year of his apprenticeship and he has thrown himself into his training with enthusiasm and commitment.

“Evan has been a model student since starting with us, producing work of an exceptional standard and has achieved distinctions in all units completed so far.”

Congratulating Evan and all the other shortlisted finalists, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Apprenticeships make a huge contribution to our economy and will be crucial as Wales continues to bounce back from the pandemic.

“They can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce, offering people the chance to gain high-quality vocational skills.

“As part of our Young Person’s Guarantee, the Welsh Government will be investing £366 million over the next three years to deliver 125,000 all-age apprenticeships across Wales during the current term of government.

“We want to increase opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to develop transferable skills in the workplace and improve their lives. The investment will also help tackle skills shortages and gaps in priority sectors critical to drive productivity and economic growth, supporting our net zero ambitions, the every-day foundational economy and public services.”

The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. For more information about recruiting an apprentice, visit: or call 03000 603000.