New opportunities for ice cream and tea apprentices

Deep in the Bedfordshire countryside at a science park in Sharnbrook, 650 scientists spend their days thinking and talking about two of the nation’s favourite things: ice cream and tea.

Now, for the first time, the team at Unilever Colworth in Sharnbrook has created brand new Higher Apprenticeships. This year nine youngsters have the opportunity to become amongst the first R&D Higher Apprentices with global consumer goods company, Unilever – the company behind household brands including PG tips, Lipton, Magnum, Wall’s and Ben & Jerry’s.

As part of their apprenticeship, the nine young adults will have the opportunity to learn while they earn. While many of their friends are heading off to university as part of the first cohort of students to pay higher tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year, for Dominic Urban, Phylip Sharp, Anna Hodgson-Jones, Alexander Hunt, Jack Mayne, Matthew Brown, David Glasspool, Thomas Miles and Ryan Clifford there will be no fear of accumulating debt of nearly £30,000. 

Not only will they get a degree for free, but they will also gain valuable work experience and earn a salary while working at Colworth - one of Unilever’s global research and development (R&D) centres.

The apprentices join teams based at Colworth who are responsible for innovation in ice cream and tea, using leading edge science and technology to develop the textures and flavours that we’ll all be enjoying in months and years to come.

Having received their A Level results this summer or in the last couple of years, the apprentices will now work four days a week at the R&D site, becoming experts in their chosen fields:

  • Dominic Urban from Biggleswade and Phylip Sharp from Bromham become part of the New Product Development (NPD) team looking at new leaf tea products, such as flavoured tea, and will study for Food Science degrees at Nottingham Trent University
  • Anna Hodgson-Jones from Islip in Northamptonshire joins the Rheology team – the team that researches the science behind how materials, like ice cream, flow and studying how to make Magnums creamier. She will work towards a Chemistry degree at Greenwich University
  • Jack Mayne from Hinckley and Alexander Hunt from Biddenden, Kent join the Chemistry team, analysing chemical and biological components in raw materials and product formulations to ensure product safety. They will work towards Chemistry degrees at Greenwich University
  • Matthew Brown from Rushden and David Glasspool from Bedford join the Toxicology team, ensuring that new and improved products are safe for consumers, whilst gaining a Biomedical Science degrees from Anglia Ruskin
  • Thomas Miles from Irchester, Northamptonshire and Ryan Clifford from Bedford will be involved in improving and creating new iced tea drinks for Lipton and will study for Food Science degrees at Nottingham Trent University.

Jenny Ryder, HR Manager at Unilever in Colworth said, “There’s an astounding amount of science that goes into bringing new food products into our kitchen cupboards, fridges and freezers, and by employing R&D apprentices, we can ensure that we are developing the next generation of expert scientists in our team.

“This is the first time we’ve offered apprenticeships at Colworth and we have had such high demand, that we’ve created extra roles this year. We’re now taking applications for 2013 and look forward to creating a legacy of specialist apprentices here in Bedfordshire who will have an impact on products which are enjoyed all around the world.”

Matthew Brown, Apprentice said, “As the end of sixth form loomed over me, I had to prioritise what I wanted in my future. With tuition fees raised and graduate employability put into question, it seemed sensible to look for a stable job first. I was happy to take any science work experience, so this apprenticeship stood out as an unmissable opportunity.

“With apprenticeships, everyone’s a winner; it’s a mutually beneficial investment. I couldn't have got a better deal: no debt and a long fulfilling career which I'm proud of. The work is cool and the pay is good. I'm 20 years old, next year I plan to buy a house!"


Notes to Editors:

Katya Bridges

UK & Ireland Media Relations Manager

T: 01372 945925 / M: 07785 450287


About Unilever:

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods with operations in over 100 countries and sales in 190. Consumers buy 170 billion Unilever packs around the world every year, and our products are used over two billion times a day. We have more than 171,000 employees, and generated annual sales of €46.5 billion in 2011.

Working to create a better future every day, we help people to feel good, look good and get more out of life with brands and services that are good for them and good for others. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known and most loved brands including thirteen €1 billion brands, and global leadership in most categories in which we operate. The portfolio features iconic brands such as: Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Dove, Vaseline, Persil, Cif, Marmite, Flora, Wall’s, Lynx, Sure, Cif, Domestos and Pot Noodle.

Unilever’s ambition is to double the size of our business, whilst reducing our overall environmental impact (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal). We are also committed to doing what we can to improve health, nutrition and hygiene, with a target to help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, as well as sourcing all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020. All of these goals are itemised in around 50 time-based commitments in our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Unilever has led the Food Producers sector in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes for 13 consecutive years. We are included in the FTSE4Good Index Series and attained a top environmental score of 5, leading to inclusion in the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 Index. In 2011 Unilever led the Climate Counts Company Scorecard and was named #1 in the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders according to the latest survey findings from GlobeScan Inc. and SustainAbility Ltd.

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit

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