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Skills council for pharma

Published on 11/08/09 at 08:37am

The UK pharmaceutical sector is set to get its own body dedicated to identifying and addressing key skills issues.

A high level workshop, organised by Cogent Sector Skills Council and the National Skills Academy Process Industries, the new skills body, will allow pharmaceutical employers to take a lead on the skills agenda for the sector.

Chaired by Anthony Higham, operations director of Aesica Pharmaceuticals, the workshop brought together over 30 of the UK's biggest industry players and government representatives to examine the specific skills issues and to agree on the priorities and actions needed to support the industry.

A joint leadership of Cogent and the Skills Academy will develop these recommendations, and a range of sub-groups will work on the issues before reconvening in the autumn to form an action plan.

Key areas identified as priorities included:

* Risk-based assessment, which is now the focus of the regulatory authorities

* Innovation in pharma operations; management and leadership in a global industry

* Graduates and higher-level provision

* STEM education and support for young people.

Summing up, Anthony Higham identified a number of common themes: "It is clear the UK pharmaceutical industry needs to change in order to remain competitive.

"As with any change programme the most common failure mode is lack of leadership and direction, hence the importance of the workshop and the ongoing commitment by all delegates.

"Clearly there is a need for consistency and the importance of a common voice from within the industry.

"This includes the alignment and the need to avoid duplication from the various service providers in attendance at the workshop."

Skills Academy chief executive Phil Jones said: "This is a key step in giving the pharmaceutical sector the equivalent of its own dedicated skills body.

"The sector has its own unique footprint and specific needs, and the aim of this body is to make sure that it is pharma employers who are driving their own skills agenda."

Cogent SSC chief executive Joanna Woolf said: "The UK pharmaceutical industry is vital to the country's economy and the skills required to ensure the future sustainability of the sector are a key factor.

"Under the joint leadership of Cogent and the Skills Academy this new body will allow pharma employers to come together and properly consider the skills agenda, and reach agreement on the priorities and necessary actions to support the industry."

The workshop included presentations from the Inspection Enforcement and Standards Division at the MHRA, the ABPI and the Skills Academy.

Delegates then split into breakout groups to discuss the key messages from the presentations and to construct a consensus view on the essential skills issues facing the pharma sector and how they can be addressed.

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