A core aim of the ATSTN is to develop National Training Centres to deliver specialist on-site courses, including innovative digital training utilising virtual reality, providing learners with the hands-on expertise and experience to succeed in the advanced therapies and vaccine manufacturing sector. The ATSTN programme also includes an Online Training Platform focused on upskilling existing staff within the industry and a Career Converter which measures an individual’s transferable skills from outside the sector and recommends applicable roles within advanced therapies and vaccine manufacturing.
Based on the findings from the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult’s (CGT Catapult) Skills Demand Survey 2019, 83% of ATMP and vaccine manufacturing companies raised concerns that the recruitment and retention of skilled talent will be an important issue which slows down or delays their forecasted manufacturing expansions. As such, a coherent national training offering for core manufacturing skills was requested by industry, in order to drive the required uptake of skilled talent at all levels and allow the UK sector to reach their full potential.
The ATSTN programme, which launched on 2nd December, is backed by £4.7m in funding from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) alongside Innovate UK (IUK), and is driven by industry and coordinated by the CGT Catapult. The involvement of the National Horizons Centre, RoslinCT and the University of Birmingham demonstrate how responsive the industry is in supporting the programme, to drive excellence and advance the connectivity and diversity of its training resources in partnership with academia.
Collaboration is the key to success, and I am delighted that the National Horizons Centre (NHC) has been chosen as one of the national ATSTN centres to provide the vital training of the future advanced therapies and vaccines workforce. The NHC, with its leading expertise and state of the art bioprocessing and virtual reality capabilities, is perfectly positioned to up-skill and cross-skill hundreds of people in the coming months. We will deliver the necessary technical hands-on training to create the workforce needed to manufacture vaccines and advanced therapies, to overcome COVID-19 and any future pandemics and diseases. We look forward to collaboratively working with the other Centres and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, to create a truly world-class offering that puts the UK at the forefront of ATMP and vaccine manufacturing.
Janet Downie, Chief Executive Officer at RoslinCT commented (on behalf of partners Edinburgh Napier University, North Ayrshire College, IBioIC, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance and Scottish Enterprise):
We are delighted to have been successful with our bid, alongside our Scottish partners, and lead the Scottish Training Centre as part of the UK Advanced Therapies Skills and Training Network. Not only does this fully align with the work we are doing with the Life Sciences Scotland Industry Leadership Group to develop an ATMP and Vaccines Growth Plan for Scotland, this fantastic initiative by Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult will enable us to play our part in developing a skilled talent pool and enable the tremendous growth in Vaccines and ATMP manufacturing across the UK. We are looking forward to working with the other partners within the network to deliver a UK wide training service.
We are excited that Birmingham will play a central role in delivering these much-needed skills for the UK’s advanced therapies sector. This will ensure the UK retains a world-leading position in the manufacture and delivery of advanced therapies. Moreover, it will further strengthen and leverage the rapidly-growing health and life science sector in Birmingham and the Midlands.
The involvement of the National Horizons Centre, RoslinCT and the University of Birmingham is a major step in the effective development and rollout of impactful training courses which will enable the ATSTN to upskill and attract talent into the advanced therapies and vaccine manufacturing industry. It is also indicative on how the ATSTN is a truly collaborative initiative which continues to be developed in partnership with industry and academia, and the valued expertise from these three centres will provide users access to in-person training centres which complement each other and the wealth of online resources already provided on the ATSTN platform. I look forward to witnessing the great strides which will be made over the course of next year.