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Upgrading knowledge and skills in cost-effective manner

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Rahul Guha, Partner and Director and India Lead, Healthcare Practice, BCG, gives an insight on identifying possible areas of intervention and structuring, training and upskilling programmes that can meet the human capital demands of the pharma industry

The pharmaceutical industry in India is on a robust growth trajectory and is well positioned to garner a larger global market share. However, to meet the industry’s dynamic as well as growing needs, it is imperative that the workforce is adequately trained. Pharma companies need to equip their workforce with the requisite knowledge and skills, in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Integral to this initiative is identifying possible areas of intervention and structuring, training and upskilling programmes that can ably meet the human capital demands of the industry.

A core group of HR leaders working in collaboration with operations and quality leaders from the industry, along with facilitation with BCG conceptualised the development of an entry level training academy. The team worked for almost two years to build the curriculum, align the LSSSDC curriculum and setup the academy in partnership with Yashaswi Group. The overall concept has been developed and rolled out with a pilot centre in Goa, which will train 300 students in this year and following the training, they will join the respective companies.

The Entry Level Training (ELT) Model

The first batch of the entry level training programme was introduced in November 2018 and has so far received tremendous support from the industry. The ELT programme is basically a six-month ‘finishing school’ programme that includes three months of classroom and practical training and another three months of on-the-job training (OJT). The first three months are further divided into 1.5 months of instructor-led training and 1.5 months of simulation. It finally culminates in a final examination and selection. The testing results and attendance so far has been fairly encouraging with 85 per cent attendance and 95 per cent pass test scores achieved. At completion, successful candidates received an LSSSDC certification and employment in the sponsor company. Candidates can also choose to opt for continuous education post the six-month programme. By training and upskilling themselves, such individuals are giving a boost to their career path and can expect an eventual increase in salary as well. The industry benefits by having a trained pool of resources joining the company.

Collaborative effort

The programme is facilitated by the IPA and its various members who define the curriculum and set up and run training institutes at pharma hubs while absorbing costs and providing faculty. The ELT programme is aimed at training 10+2/ITI students and BSc/B Pharma students. The industry has been heavily involved in this programme and has made significant commitments. Support garnered so far includes donations in the form of 100+ equipment, 415+ hours of curriculum as well as a commitment of Rs 2.5 crore to partner in the first year and 250+ on job training and jobs.

The path ahead

Any new initiative that is designed to have a larger impact on the industry, is initially fraught with challenges. For the ELT programme, challenges include initial issues with respect to infrastructure and accommodation, procuring live test equipment, managing diversity, securing engagement and success and getting OJT well settled. However, these are simply initial teething issues which can be addressed through judicious planning and industry collaboration. The pilot batch has been a great experience and the aim is to incorporate the learnings from the same to refine the programme further. Going forward, the focus will be on stabilising the batch strength to 90 per quarter, making the programme available to member companies beyond the core committee and defining the timeline for expansion.

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