Learning Curve

December 1, 2007
Gurminder Marwaha
Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Volume 19, Issue 12

And so another year has passed; it seems that once you've reached the age of 30, your life accelerates at a very unnerving pace. Marriage, houses, kids ... they hit you all of a sudden and before you know it, you're reminiscing about your days at university - which of course, are now just a distant memory.

And so another year has passed; it seems that once you've reached the age of 30, your life accelerates at a very unnerving pace. Marriage, houses, kids ... they hit you all of a sudden and before you know it, you're reminiscing about your days at university — which of course, are now just a distant memory.

Gurminder Marwaha

Or are they? Because the older you get, the more important it is to continue with your education. Each year brings with it a new wave of graduates who are full of ideas and enthusiasm, have a great portfolio of skills and want to be sitting where you are. Ok, so you can't do anything about age and your experience is so much more invaluable, but what about ensuring that you have the widest range of skills available — after all, employers want to ensure they have the best people for the job and the phrase de jour is "transferable skills"; that is, being able to do more than one job. It's a tricky one, because most people have had enough of essays, revision and exams by the time they leave school/university, and you simply cannot predict how the job market will develop in the next 5–10 years.

And you're not just competing with new graduates. Technology is moving at such a frenetic pace that it's not only mobile phones, cameras and computers that become obsolete within minutes of arriving on the shop shelves. Industry suppliers are always looking to develop their products and advanced technology invariably means robots and automation — which is normally the precursor to job cuts.

So what can you do? Well, the advent of the internet has helped immeasurably. Thanks to the world of online you can access a multitude of distance learning courses, many of which are geared to professionals across all industries and won't impinge on your home life too much. You can take a course (from almost any institution in the world these days) and spread the time (and cost) over a number of years. You just need to ensure you're motivated enough to study at home and complete the course.

There is no such thing as a job for life anymore, and the pharmaceutical industry isn't going to wait for anyone. Consumers want medicines cheaper and faster than ever before, and as more companies focus on biopharmaceutical production, it's imperative that you are able to offer a wide range of skills. I was talking to one of my editorial advisory board members recently and he suggested more people should look to do job swaps, at the very least in a similar or related field, but better still in an unrelated field that you have an interest in. So, make it your New Year's resolution to learn more and you might just remember how your school days were the best of your life.