Closing the bioscience skills gap

Welsh pharmaceutical service provider Penn Pharmaceutical Services is working with a team of bioscience professionals to help close the skills gap in the industry.

Research by SEMTA (Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies) found that over a quarter of bioscience companies do not have the science skills they need in their existing workforce, and 39 per cent of companies are struggling to fill existing vacancies.

Penn Pharmaceuticals is a member of the Science Standard Development Group, which is behind the new skills plan. Director of human resources at Penn, Valerie Ellis, who sits on the steering group, said: ‘The group is working hard to ensure that the skills gap is closed. We have a very keen interest in this initiative as Penn already employs technicians in the analytical development and quality control labs.

‘As a company we are already committed to providing our staff with the correct training and support in order for them to develop and last year alone we spent £130,000 on external training. We aim to encourage more businesses within the bioscience sector to invest in their staff.’

The sector skills agreement will help enable the sector to address the issues affecting recruitment and encourage further training across the UK. The Science Standard Development Group meets quarterly in London to discuss regional and national needs and the first step being taken by the group is to introduce a higher standard of work based qualifications for science labs.

The bioscience sector includes pharmaceutical companies, businesses in medical diagnostics and equipment and agricultural feedstock and chemicals. Members of the steering committee include Pfizer, 3M Health Care, Novartis, Avecia, Astrazeneca, International Business Wales and the Science Council.