July / August 2018

Preparing the Workforce of the Future

Ferdinando E. Aspesi, PhD
Preparing the Workforce of the Future - Chalkboard

In our industry, as in many others, the most important goal is developing and delivering a product that satisfies our customers. In our industry, the end customer is the patient.

Dr. Ferdinando Aspesi
Chair, Pharmaceutical Engineering Committee

A product that satisfies our patients should prevent, stabilize, or cure a specific disease like a simple cold or a very serious disease such as cancer or multiple sclerosis. To do this requires well-characterized materials, proper equipment, adequate facilities, and clear methodologies—and a well-educated workforce both in pharmaceutical development and manufacturing departments around the world.

There is a boom of new treatments based on therapeutic proteins, monoclonal antibodies, cell and gene therapies, combined with the development of the digitized economy where mathematical models, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality will be part of daily e­fforts and operations. We need to develop a workforce capable of operating in this environment.

Members of the Global Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Leadership Forum (GPMLF) have identified three populations for focus to prepare and develop this future workforce.

Middle and high school students: A focus on this population will ensure a constant interest in science and technology as well as a continuous flow of students interested in pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

University students: Those who want to pursue a master’s degree in the critical innovation disciplines described above are the focus here. The industry is working with academia to provide university deans and professors with the inputs to develop the knowledge and the capabilities for these areas of innovation. Internships and capstone projects will help to develop these capabilities for students that want to pursue careers in the pharmaceutical industry.

Young professionals already working in our industry: Even though they have completed their formal education, young professionals (YPs) will need to expand their understanding, knowledge, and skills to be successful in the innovation areas described above.

Another area to consider, although not yet part of the GPMLF e­ ort, is developing the manufacturing and laboratory operators and technicians. They need a similar e­ ort to upgrade their skills to meet the industry’s changing needs. We will address this challenge in future issues of Pharmaceutical Engineering. Please contact me if you are interested in participating in a GPMLF Workforce of the Future team.

This e­ffort is going to enhance and complement ISPE’s commitment to Student Chapters in starting early to build knowledge and networking in the industry through the Student Chapter experience. ISPE has a robust Student Chapter program comprised of 70 Student Chapters in 13 Affiliates and Chapters worldwide. Students in these chapters work closely with faculty and industry advisors and enjoy the benefits of networking and mentorship opportunities with ISPE members around the globe for training and education in our industry.

Speaking of workforces, ISPE’s staff­ has a new addition: Pharmaceutical Engineering recently welcomed a new Editorial Director, Susan Sandler. With a new Editorial Director comes the need for new content, so we welcome your article submissions to be considered for an upcoming issue.

To submit an article, start here for information on what to submit and how. We are especially interested in technical articles from contributors like you.

Dr. Ferdinando Aspesi is a Senior Partner at Bridge Associates International. He has been an ISPE member since 1992.