The results of the first ever survey of the skills needs of the life science sector in Merseyside and Halton have been presented to an audience comprising business and industry
The life sciences skills survey was commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), Jet South Liverpool and Merseybio with considerable input from Novartis Vaccines.
Its aim was to identify the current training provision, gaps in training provision and future skills needs for the life science sector.
The study was the first ever in-depth survey of manufacturing in life science companies ever carried out in the UK.
Steve Jones, director of employee development, Novartis Vaccines, presented the results of the survey.
A key finding of the survey is that the greatest gap in skills is evident at technical/supervisory staff level and areas of immediate concern are in the use of statistical process control, understanding environmental control and process issues, regulatory requirements and standards and validation.
The survey involved nearly 45% of local companies representing nearly 3000 employees making it one of the most extensive study of its kind to date.
Key recommendations from the report are already being implemented and include simplified and direct access to support for training by companies through a new brokerage service announced by the UK Learning and Skills Council.
Work is also underway to assess industry's demand for different types of training and preferred methods of delivery.
Steve Jones, Novartis Vaccines, commented: "The results of the survey reflected the broad cross section of current and future skill gaps for all types of organisations in our sector.
"It is reassuring to know that large companies like Novartis and other smaller companies can work together, consolidate our common needs as employers and inform local agencies of our training and development requirements.
"This demand led approach to provision of staff development will ensure continued business success".
Geoff Wainwright of Merseybio said: "This survey is the first of its kind in the UK and provides the region with invaluable insight and knowledge about the life science sector current and future challenges.
"The important thing now is for partners to work together to respond to these challenges and provide the region's industry with the training they require.
"People are central to the success of our businesses.
"Ensuring we have the right skills in place will fuel the success of our sector".
Sheila Adams, regional skills development manager (sectors) for the LSC, commented: "The survey results offer the opportunity to define the skills requirements for the life sciences sector and provide valuable information to aid the planning of LSC provision to meet those requirements.
"LSC Greater Merseyside has recently, via the Skillworks programme, offered additional support to large employers and their supply chain which will ensure that local companies continue to grow using skills development as an active element in ensuring their workforce meet the ongoing challenges within the sector."