PEI biotechnology students benefit from access to specialized skills training

In part four of our five-part series on BioTalent Canada’s leading edge training courses, we spoke with Christopher Gillis, Executive Director at the Canadian Alliance for Skills & Training in Life Sciences (CASTL), about their experiences with the program.

Bio-economy employers place a high value on talent with essential and technical skills related to the work environment. Graduates that come equipped with those skills give themselves a competitive advantage when marketing themselves to potential employers. They can be on-boarded in a shorter period of time and get up to speed quickly.

CASTL, a unique partnership between academia, industry, and government to address the future skills needs of the Canadian life sciences sector, counts employers, learners, and academia as its biggest stakeholders. It’s focused on reskilling, upskilling, and new skilling of Canadian talent. As a result, BioTalent Canada’s Essential Skills Fundamentals and Technical Skills Fundamentals were an ideal fit into CASTL’s suite of offerings.

“Our partners at Holland College expressed interest in the courses for 20 of their biotechnology program students,” says Gillis. “The students completed the courses as a required supplement to their training curriculum. This process was supervised by a full-time learning manager from the biotechnology program.”

The initial attraction was the focus on essential skills and the benefits of including the programs as part of Holland College’s biotechnology program curriculum. Holland College was attracted to the self-directed user experience of the online courses.

The response from the students who completed the program was very positive. They felt the learning objectives are clear and the course content was engaging.

  • 90% report learning new skills
  • 75% are confident in their ability to apply those skills on the job.

In addition to bolstering their essential skills, students said they’ve gained skills in Good Manufacturing Practice, Good Laboratory Practice, and new Good Clinical Practice materials. They also report gaining skills in report writing, Standard Operating Procedures, and clinical research with human trials.

“These concrete and essential skills will benefit them,” says Gillis. “Especially as they enter the workforce where industry partners have identified a need for these foundational skills to be developed in new hires.”

Holland College’s bioscience technology program has received attention recently. The program earned a national award for excellence from Colleges and Institutes Canada. The award recognizes a program that is innovative, portable, sustainable and effective.

Holland College’s openness to incorporating programs like BioTalent Canada’s best-in-class essential and technical skills training into its curriculum is just one example of its innovation and sustainability. Including this training in its first- and second-year curricula sets its students up for success upon graduation.

For CASTL’s part, it was established to accelerate the growth of the Canadian bioscience economy through its real-time talent ecosystem which is focused on supplying the ongoing skills and talent needs of industry. Its partnership with BioTalent Canada—and offering these essential and technical skills courses to its stakeholders—play a pivotal role in accomplishing that goal.

“Industry is looking for employees and graduates who have essential skills related to the professional work environment,” says Gillis. “Investing in courses such as these for students is an important step in working to meet industry needs and to ensuring graduates have the necessary essential skills to be successful in their careers.”

Please contact Joanne Jordan to learn more about how to access the Essential Skills Fundaments and Technical Skills Fundamentals courses.

Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program.