The United Kingdom has a long history of leading the development of innovative medicines that have transformed healthcare and brought real benefits to patients. Creation of new medicines needs highly skilled people, and the supply of high quality life science skills is an important element in attracting global pharmaceutical research and development investment.
The pipeline of skills is not unlike the pipeline of compounds. We can’t live forever on today’s products. Neither can we live on today’s skills – we need a healthy pipeline of people too.
This week Science Minister David Willetts announced a £52 million investment in new and emerging science talent through the creation of a Science Industrial Partnership (SIP). This brings together around 100 leading science sector employers to design the vocational training and skills programmes the sector needs to thrive in the global economy. Industry is contributing a substantial amount of money to the SIP. Employers are contributing £20 million plus a further £31 million through in-kind contributions. This shouts that industry is making a commitment to increasing the skills base, not just with their time but with their money too.
The life sciences sector in the UK continues to evolve at a rapid rate and so it is essential that the next generation of scientists have the skills that both they and business require to be successful in the future. The SIP allows employers to take a leading role in achieving this objective.
We look forward to the SIP having a major impact, for example, in addressing industry needs for apprentices and graduates with industrial experience. These new employees will, over time, become the skilled employees that will enable companies to improve their business effectiveness. The SIP will also support development of the existing workforce with skills needed for new technologies and to develop innovative new products and services.
To assess the current and future skills needs of companies and to inform future SIP programmes, two surveys are planned:
Ultimately, this initiative will help to preserve the UK’s reputation as a world leader in an extremely competitive area. The industry makes a vital contribution to the United Kingdom’s economy and has the potential, within the right environment, to continue to flourish and generate further growth.
ABPI Head of Education and Exams