Pharma apprenticeships hit four-year high

Apprenticeships are increasingly viewed as an alternative to academic career paths.

There has been a significant rise in the number of higher level apprenticeships across the pharmaceutical industry over the past four years, according to a new survey by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

The survey into links between industry and academia shows that global pharmaceutical companies in the UK are turning to apprenticeships to ensure a steady stream of highly-skilled workers and fill skills gaps in key roles.

Since 2015, apprenticeships within the industry are up by 31% (from 297 to 388) and up by 169% since 2013.

Apprenticeships are increasingly being viewed as a viable option to a more traditional academic career path and numbers have risen across the board within the life sciences sector:

  • IT (82% rise)
  • Engineering (21% rise)
  • R&D (165% rise).

Only the number of manufacturing apprentices has dropped, by 13%.

The survey also found that undergraduate placements had increased; 704 undergraduate industrial placements (IPs) were recorded in 2017, an increase of 17% from 2015.The number of undergraduates starting sandwich course (combining study with a work placement), increased by 36% over the last five years.

The ABPI asks companies to submit data about their academic links across their entire business, from undergraduate placements to large-scale collaborative projects which bring together industry, academia, charities and the NHS.

Andrew Croydon, Head of Education and Academic Liaison, said: “The growth in IT apprenticeships and undergraduate placements are important and goes some way in filling the skills gap within emerging technologies but if the UK is to retain and grow its world-leading life sciences status, it is crucial to develop a strategic approach in developing a skills pipeline for the entire Life Sciences sector.”

Malcolm Skingle C.B.E, Director of Academic Liaison at GSK and Chair of the ABPI Academic Liaison Expert Network, said: “The importance of the Life Sciences sector was highlighted by the Government’s in Industry Strategy, and it is crucial that we fully exploit the inherent potential this sector holds in order to anchor the UK as a global hub of research and innovation…increasing collaboration is imperative to further developing the UK science base as a whole.”

It is expected that this trend within the pharmaceutical industry will continue to increase its apprenticeship base to meet its ambition to reach 20,000 apprenticeships in the science sector by 2020.