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Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.
The United Kingdom's pharmaceutical sector sector will soon have its own organizational body to help employers drive the key skills agenda of the industry.
The United Kingdom’s pharmaceutical sector sector will soon have its own organizational body to help employers drive the key skills agenda of the industry. The move follows a workshop organized by the Cogent Sector Skills Council and the National Skills Academy Process Industries, which brought together more than 30 of the country's largest industry players in July.
“This group will put the 600 pharma employers in the UK firmly in the driving seat," Phil Jones, CEO of the National Skills Academy Process Industries, told Pharmaceutical Technology Europe (PTE). "It is their industry, and they are the best people to direct the change. Having a clear roadmap will strengthen their future, helping to attract and retain staff by making career paths clearer and more attractive."
Process industries, including chemicals and polymers as well as pharmaceuticals, in the UK are heading for a severe skills shortage with 40% of the workforce over age 45. To keep the industry in operation, the sector will need to recruit 24,000 apprentices and 10,000 graduates during the next decade.
Six skill areas have been identified as priorities: risk-based assessment; careers and retention of staff; innovation in pharma operations; management and leadership in a global industry; graduates and higher level provision; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and support for young people.
"There is a need for consistency and the importance of a common voice from within the industry. The final themes discussed centred on the alignment and the need to avoid duplication from the various service providers in attendance at the workshop," said Anthony Higham, who chaired the workshop and is operations director of Aesica, in a statement.
A range of subgroups will work on the issues raised at the workshop before meeting again this fall to finalize an action plan. “The pharma industry has many specific needs if it is to fill the skills gaps and shortages," Jones explained to PTE. "This new, employer-driven group brings together a team of authoritative and influential people who understand the industry and what needs to be done to make the changes that are essential and urgent if the industry is to remain competitive.”
Stephanie Sutton is an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.