Transferable Skills for the Bio-economy – Finding the employees that have what it takes

As economies around the world change and develop faster than ever before, the bio-economy is emerging as a major growth sector in countries such as Canada. To maximize its potential, however, it needs access to talent to fill the jobs. And many of those skills have been developed in traditional sectors which may now be in transition.

Plugging the skills gap

BioTalent Canada works with the industry to identify current and future skills needs, as well as locating and transitioning people who have these skills and are ready to move into the bio-economy.

Through the BioSkills Recognition Program, BioTalent Canada helps Internationally Educated Professionals identify transferable skills which the bio-economy needs, giving them the opportunity to be deemed BioReadyTM.

A BioReady status is a seal of approval from the industry, conferred by bio-economy professionals such as Kathaleen Strong, an HR specialist with years of experience in sectors from aquaculture to food processing. She has been a BioReady Review Board member since 2012, reviewing portfolios from job seekers who are keen to put their skills to work in a sector promising strong growth.

Says Ms Strong, “There’s a real need for infrastructure to get people thinking about the breadth of skills they have, and it’s great that BioTalent Canada is leading in this area. I’ve worked my entire career in Atlantic Canada, and I know that people based in rural areas often face a lack of access to new possibilities if they need to change jobs.”

Broadening horizons

Ms Strong has reviewed a number of portfolios from BioReady candidates and finds that the quality of the portfolios reflects the strength and variety of skills out there in Canada today. “I’m an HR professional and I’ve worked in training and in developing job descriptions, so when I review these portfolios,I try to give feedback that I know recruiters and HR people want to see. A key part is knowing your skill-set and knowing how to communicate that,” she says.

Deborah Rose agrees. She has worked in traditional manufacturing for much of her career, and she learned about identifying and promoting her transferable skills withBioReadystatus when the manufacturing plant where she had worked for 14 years closed.

“I had guidance to put my BioSkills portfolio together and it opened my eyes to all the skills I had without really thinking about them,” says Ms Rose. “It gets you thinking about everything you actually can do, that employers may be looking for.”

“Coming from a long career in traditional manufacturing, a lot of the tasks I was doing day to day are a key part of bio-manufacturing as well,” Ms Rose explains. “Sanitation, working with chemicals, meeting government inspectors’ standards, these are all part of my skill set. But I didn’t necessarily think of them they were just part of my job.”

For many people who have gained BioReady status, the experience has helped to boost their aspirations. Ms Rose says that the self-testing encouraged her to think about the computer skills that she’d developed on the job, and she’s currently training to increase her skills in that area and enhance her profile.

Skills, knowledge and experience –vital ingredients for growth in the bio-economy

Working with both potential employees and industry experts, BioTalent Canada focuses on existing traditional skills which are transferable to meet real world HR needs in today’s bio-economy. Peter Grier is a new BioReady Review Board member who came on board in 2013, offering his expertise as a chemical engineer and director of manufacturing at Novozymes in Ottawa.

“I’ve already assessed about five portfolios in my first months, and the process is fairly stringent. Unfortunately,not everyone makes the grade, but the BioReady Review Board members use the feedback section to explain what might be missing from a portfolio or what to do achieve BioReady status,” he explains.

And what’s in it for the BioReady Review Board members? Direct access to the newest workers entering Canada’s bio-economy as well as current professionals seeking new opportunities in the industry. Firsthand knowledge of available, pre-screened talent before other industry members are just two advantages. In a major growth sector where talent is at a premium, this can really give employers an edge over their competitors.

Want to be certified BioReady? Interested in being a BioReady Review Board member? Give us a call today or visit to get started.

Newsletter Issue:

HR Microscope May 2013