25 Mar 2022

Science Minister Supports National Life Science Skills Initiative

Science Minister George Freeman says life sciences have an essential part to play in creating the economy and ecosystem of tomorrow.

His remarks were delivered to a UK-wide audience as he welcomed young people and graduates to the Life Sciences Skills event, a national initiative highlighting the skills landscape, delivered by Discovery Park campus. Following British Science Week, the one-day conference highlighted life science skills opportunities and examined how the industry plans to fix the current shortage of qualified staff and develop and retain talent in the sector.

Introducing the event, Discovery Park’s CEO, Mayer Schreiber, outlined the ambition of the Kent-based facility to become a world class life sciences hub. He praised the Government for its commitment to the sector and its recognition of the life sciences industry, saying: “we want to build a science superpower across the UK.”

The Minister commended Discovery Park for building a thriving life sciences community. Speaking about the opportunity to build on the scientific talent that exists across the country and produce faster access to research medicine for everyone, he said: “Nowhere has better demonstrated that potential than Discovery Park.”

Speakers throughout the day included Andrew Croydon, Director of Skills & Education, ABPI, who said that the life sciences industry is competing with other sectors for digital, data and engineering talent, and said that it was vital to increase the number of potential recruits and to break down barriers through educating young people about the exciting careers that exist in the sector.

Liz Collins, Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) Skills Lead and Pfizer HBU MedSci Innovative Category Lead, delivered a keynote speech on the Medicines Manufacturing and Skills Roadmap. Liz commented: “Understanding what skills we need to bring the 2030 Life Sciences vision to fruition is critical, specifically in medicines manufacturing. Our focus is on exciting the next generation and demonstrating that the life sciences sector is a place where diverse skills are needed to drive innovation and keep the UK at the forefront of medicines manufacturing. We want to demonstrate to future talent that this is a sector which is inclusive and provides fantastic opportunities for career growth whether you are a school leaver or somebody who has been in the sector for many years.”

With new jobs within the industry set to grow by 130,000 by 2030, the Life Science UK Skills event brought together experts from pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and biochemistry together with industry leaders, academics and recruitment specialists to discuss ways to encourage new talent from secondary education through to post-graduate, into the sector.

Interactive panel sessions and workshops allowed the audience to participate in discussions; and there were speakers from Pfizer, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, Cannon Medical, Siemens, BIA and RoslinCT and Health Education England/NHS-AI Lab, with the keynote address delivered by Dr Elizabeth Collins of Pfizer and Chair of MMIP (Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership.)

More than 15 universities were involved in the planning of the event, alongside the Discovery Park Skills Hub committee. The Discovery Park Skills Hub was officially launched last year in partnership with STEM hub, East Kent College, Canterbury Christ Church University, University of Kent, Pfizer and Cummins and the opportunity it creates to access a wide range of skills and training through a single portal was highlighted in the opening speech by Mayer Schreiber.

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