SIP_Malcolm Skingle

Malcolm Skingle, Director, Academic Liaison GlaxoSmithKline and Science Industry Partnership Chair explains the new Skills for Growth scheme and how it can benefit companies.

Ensuring the life sciences sector secures the exceptional talent it needs to succeed has never been more important. Collaborative ventures with smaller companies and the increased outsourcing of research and development to a growing supply chain are key trends right across the breadth of the industry.

Individuals within the SME workforce – many of whom are employed within BIA member companies –  through their skills and contribution, are delivering the innovation that is so fundamental to this strategic sector.

But the right conditions need to exist if these smaller companies are to innovate and flourish.

Cogent, the skills organisation for the science industries has identified a range of skills that small companies in life sciences recognise as critical for successful growth.  However, these are skills that are not always easy to cultivate and high quality training provision is not always readily accessible.

Cogent has also found, as might be expected, that small businesses have both time and resource limitations and their preferred learning style is ‘need to know’ – with a focus on immediate application to the business or role. In addition, SMEs often lack the resources to navigate a complicated provider and funding landscape.

Now, through the new Science Industry Partnership (SIP), an initiative led by GSK and a group of companies from across the sector, a solution is at hand. The  SIP Skills for Growth scheme offers small businesses funding support to invest in training for sustainable business growth. It also provides an opportunity to benchmark performance through an online diagnostic tool.

Working with training providers the SIP is quality assuring a range of solutions (1 – 2 day courses) that deliver in the following core skill areas:

  • Leadership & Personnel Management
  • Commercialisation
  • Market and Data Analysis
  • Laboratory Practice & Formulation
  • Design for Manufacture
  • Quality Assurance
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Intellectual Property

The SIP Skills for Growth initiative provides valuable funding support, and the quality assured courses are available to small businesses through a 50:50 co-investment reimbursement scheme to a maximum £500 per learning intervention.

The process for drawing down funding for both the workforce development programmes is simple:

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Cogent, the SIP’s delivery partner, can manage the process for companies working closely with providers to ensure real added value for the company.  Importantly, the providers are quality assured through an independent assessment process that is endorsed by the SIP’s Quality Group.

The new SIP partnership is allowing life science employers to shape skills design and relate it to wider growth ambitions. This type of forum has never existed before. It provides an end to end solution from STEM careers through Apprenticeships to an industry-based Degrees Scheme and Masters modules, as well as workforce development programmes based on growth and innovation.

Developments in life science research and applications have accelerated since the decoding of the human genome. The spread of these new techniques into the economy has a long way to go – and this opportunity to co-invest in skills development is a key part of sector-wide innovation.

To find out how you can benefit from this initiative and to get involved, email Kate Griffiths, Skills for Growth Manager: kate.griffiths@cogent-ssc.comSmall businesses in the science-based industries, with 250 or less employees and located in England are eligible to apply.