The outputs from the workshop are being taken away under the joint leadership of Cogent and the Skills Academy.

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New body to support pharmaceutical industry employers

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

Following a high-level workshop organized by the National Skills Academy Process Industries and Cogent Sector Skills Council, the new skills body will allow pharmaceutical employers to drive the skills agenda of the sector.

The workshop – which was chaired by Anthony Higham, Operations Director of Aesica Pharmaceuticals – brought together more than 30 of the UK’s biggest industry players and Government representatives to examine the specific skills issues and reach agreement on the priorities and actions necessary to support the industry. The joint outputs from the workshop are being taken away under the joint leadership of Cogent and the Skills Academy, and a range of subgroups will work on the issues before reconvening in Autumn to form an action plan.

The six key areas identified as priorities were risk-based assessment, which is now the focus of the Regulatory Authorities; careers and retention of staff; innovation in pharmaceutical operations; management and leadership in a global industry; graduates and higher level provision; and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and support for young people.

Summing up, Anthony Higham identified a number of common themes for the day: ‘Reflecting on the keynote speaker insights and the perspective of the delegates it is clear that 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, the final themes discussed centred on the alignment and the need to avoid duplication from the various service providers in attendance at the workshop.’

Skills Academy Chief Executive Phil Jones added: ‘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.’

If anyone who could not attend the event wishes to participate in the next stage of the process, they should contact either Ian Mains at the Skills Academy ( or John Holton at Cogent (

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