Scotland’s Life Sciences Dinner and Annual Awards | Why investing in skills brings rewards for Life Sciences employers
Scotland’s vibrant life sciences industry contributes more than £3 billion a year to the Scottish economy and is globally recognised for its impact and high levels of innovation.
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Why investing in skills brings rewards for Life Sciences employers

In our latest blog, Ronnie Palin, Key Sector Manager – Life and Chemical Sciences at Skills Development Scotland outlines the rewards from investment planning in skills and how it will benefit employers and how this exciting new category will spotlight those who are already doing this. 

One of the key assets making Scotland’s Life Sciences sector such an important competitor in the global marketplace is the talents and expertise of its workforce. For the sector in Scotland to maintain and enhance this competitiveness, it must continually invest in skills, from attracting new entrants to upskilling those it already employs.

For this reason, it’s very welcome that Scotland’s Life Sciences Awards now features a skills category for the first time. The Outstanding Skills Development Award will go to an employer who is making a significant and sustainable contribution towards improving skills, and can show the positive business outcomes achieved as a result. That could be developing a culture of learning and sharing good practice, investing in people to build the right balance of skills, or creating competency based career progression structures, amongst many others.

Skills Investment Plan

The introduction of this new category, which is sponsored by Skills Development Scotland (SDS), is emblematic of the central role played by skills in the future of the sector. Earlier this year, the new Skills Investment Plan for Life and Chemical Sciences was published, with a wide range of employers from across both sectors playing key roles in identifying the skills needs of the sector and the response required to address those needs.

At the heart of the Skills Investment Plan lies an action plan structured around four themes:

  • addressing specific skills shortages;
  • ensuring national coverage of skills and training provision;
  • increasing exposure to, and understanding of, the industry; and
  • enhancing practical experience.

Within those themes lie a series of measures that address the specific needs of employers, from updating qualifications to better reflect the skills required in the workplace, to the development of new learning pathways such as Graduate Apprenticeships.

Dividends for employers

The range of measures featured in the action plan means there are many opportunities for employers of all sizes and in all sub-sectors of the Life Sciences industry to become involved in this work, and it can pay dividends for companies in both the short-term and the long-term as they look to navigate changing markets and deal with the uncertainties resulting from factors such as Brexit. That’s why I’m hopeful that many employers will put themselves forward for the Outstanding Skills Development category at next year’s Scotland’s Life Sciences Awards, as it will allow them to share with others why taking a positive and proactive approach to skills can be rewarding in its own right.

To find out more about the Skills Investment Plan for Life and Chemical Sciences, please contact me at

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