Associate feature: keeping up with the skills requirements of the biotechnology industry is a challenge

Written by Rachel Moir, IBioIC on 19 June 2018 in Comment

A wide technology base and a range of soft skills are needed for biotechnology, says IBioIC skills programme manager Rachel Moir

Rachel Moir, Skills Programme Manager, IBioIC - Image credit: IBioIC

The use of industrial biotechnology is not new in Scotland; however, it is only in recent years that there has been a real drive at government level to develop the sector. 

This is as a result of the identified economic growth potential and the need for sustainable manufacturing methods to be found as we push towards a more circular economy. 

In my role as skills programme manager at IBioIC, I am tasked with developing a workforce with the required skills to ensure Scotland can take full advantage of this exciting area of economic growth.

The key focus of IBioIC’s training programmes, which range from HNDs to PhDs, is to ensure that our students are ‘industry ready’. 

This is proving increasingly challenging with the growing number of skills required by employers across the sector.

Gone are the days of being able to just beaver away on some nice science in the lab; today’s scientist are now expected to possess a much wider skills set. 

IBioIC run an annual Skills for Industry Day to collect feedback from our industry members on skills gaps across Scotland and time and time again, the need for additional training in ‘soft’ skills areas such as business management is highlighted.

In addition to non-technical skills, due to the multidisciplinary nature of the sector and the emergence of new areas such as bioinformatics and artificial intelligence, workers in the sector are also expected to work with a wider technical base.

We are all aware of Scotland’s growth potential in the area of industrial biotechnology and are proactively working towards ensuring the skilled workforce is in place to maximise on this potential – the question is: is this enough, and can we keep up with the rapidly changing needs of the sector in time?

Rachel Moir is the skills programme manager at IBioIC, the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre, in Glasgow

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