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Life Sciences Q2 2024

Why biopharma resilience depends on education and training

John Milne PhD

Director of Training Alliances and Innovation, NIBRT

Ireland’s biopharmaceutical industry is thriving, offering cutting-edge treatments. Learn about the skilled workforce driving innovation and growth.

Biopharmaceuticals are among the most sophisticated and elegant achievements of modern science offering treatments and potential cures. Groundbreaking treatments are now being delivered to patients based on cell therapy, gene therapy and innovative vaccines.  

Modern skills required in biopharmaceuticals

Ireland continues to play a critical role in the supply of biopharmaceuticals to world markets through the tremendous success of its manufacturing install base that continues to attract ongoing investment and is served across disciplines by a world-class workforce.

Due to the highly regulated nature of the biopharmaceutical industry, it is becoming evident that the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals will require a highly skilled, focused and motivated workforce to meet the challenges and complexities ahead.

As the industry matures and implements rapidly emerging Industry 5.0 initiatives, the need to develop personnel competent in digital solutions and the use of more automated technologies will become increasingly important. The wider biopharma skills agenda and flexible workforce readiness solutions will become ever more critical if Ireland is to continue to attract further investment into the future.

Competency-based biopharma manufacturing training

Training of individuals to work in biopharmaceutical manufacturing is best achieved using competency-focused, practical-based solutions that encourage the trainee to develop critical skills in an active and engaged learning environment. Such training may be delivered ideally on-the-job or, alternatively, in a training facility that incorporates equipment and processes aligned with real-life production and manufacturing strategies where training activities don’t compromise active production and schedules.

The wider biopharma skills agenda and flexible workforce readiness solutions will become ever more critical.

How to address dynamic industry demands

Greater collaboration between enterprise and higher education institutes tasked with providing the life science and engineering graduates of the future will be crucial for success in Ireland.

Industry experts can offer guidance on the unique challenges encountered in regulated manufacturing environments. They can also provide insights into the evolving skillsets necessary across various disciplines to address the dynamic demands of the industry. This, in turn, will help inform curricula development and graduate preparation in certificate, diploma and degree programmes respectively. 

Supporting biopharmaceutical training

The resilience of our industry will depend on bridging skills gaps through ongoing education and training to support staff hiring and retention initiatives. Such initiatives will be further underpinned by continuing Government funding of current and future training programmes.

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