Pharma sector trains students to keep talent pool flowing

Pharmaceutical firms have now taken it upon themselves to solve the gap in skills. Multinational pharmaceutical firms such as Lupin and Sanofi are recruiting capable students and training them in their manufacturing facilities.

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Panaji: Persistent shortage of skilled workers threatens to undermine Goa’s Rs 10,000 crore pharmaceutical industry. With a significant share in pharmaceutical exports, the sector continues to struggle due to the lack of a ready pool of talent.

Pharmaceutical firms have now taken it upon themselves to solve the gap in skills. Multinational pharmaceutical firms such as Lupin and Sanofi are recruiting capable students and training them in their manufacturing facilities.

Goa Pharmaceuticals Manufacturers’ Association (GPMA) president Dr Praveen Khullar said most of the candidates who join the industry lack employable skills and that every company has to spend time and resources to train the new employees. “Industry-academia link-up has to be increased if students are to be made industry-ready,” Khullar told TOI. “GPMA is in touch with various academic heads, including Goa College of Pharmacy. The first step is to increase interaction between college students, faculty and industry.”

A study conducted by the National Skill Development Corporation found that Goa will face a huge deficit of skilled manpower touching 1.04 lakh by 2022.

“Fresh graduates often find themselves unprepared for the challenges of modern workplaces,” said president of global human resources at Lupin, Yashwant Mahadik.

Several firms are now embracing apprenticeship.

Lupin introduced the Learn & Earn programme, which takes in deserving rural youth and allows them to pursue higher education while also working. The firm takes in students from Class XII science stream who are interested in a career in the pharma industry. Students undergo five days of on-the-job training and one day of classroom sessions. Once the students complete the three-year graduation course, they are awarded a bachelor’s degree from open universities.

“When we were starting, we had an internal debate as this (initiative) could be the best ground for poaching by other players in the industry,” C Srinivasalu, senior vice-president (HR) at Lupin said. “But if I compare people from lateral entries to people who are from the learn & earn programme, the attrition is much lesser for learn & earn.”

Other sector leaders encourage their employees to upskill themselves while still employed at manufacturing facilities. “I try and take in 20-30 students every year in our unit as apprentice-cum-trainees. Sanofi also sponsors studies of employees who want to pursue further studies,” Khullar said.

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