Labour shortages are hitting virtually every Canadian sector, from coffee shops to car manufacturing – and life sciences is no exception. But what is exceptional about our industry is its vital importance to Canada’s health security and economic future, and its urgent demand for high-skilled talent to drive its growth.

With the COVID pandemic came tectonic shifts across the life sciences landscape – from unparalleled public and political focus to the rapid development of (and further need for) new health innovation, to record-level investment globally – and in Canada, a reckoning around the value of domestic innovation capacity.

This confluence of forces has created not only an unprecedented opportunity, but a critical need to build the Canadian life sciences industry. With the wealth of world-class research at Canada’s academic institutions, its foundation is well-primed, but requires some emergency underpinning with strong talent ready to support its growth.

BioTalent Canada predicts Canada will be short 65,000 life sciences workers by 2029; and further warns, “Some of the most severe shortages are expected in bio-manufacturing and processing. Forecasts suggest employers will be able to fill only 25% of job openings in these areas between now and 2029. The shortage is expected to intensify as Canada seeks to expand its manufacturing sector due to the glaring lack of capacity highlighted by COVID-19.”

The talent challenge is exacerbated by a significant equity gap in the life science workforce. Women make up only 34 per cent of workers in the bioeconomy, while other equity-seeking groups have even less representation. Visible minorities represent only one-fifth of the workforce, internationally educated professionals 17 per cent, recent immigrants nine per cent, while Indigenous workers and workers with disabilities combined make up one per cent of the bioeconomy workforce.

To combat this looming and double-barrelled challenge, adMare BioInnovations and the Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL) have come together to build the talent desperately needed in Canada’s biopharmaceutical manufacturing sector.

adMare is a national life sciences leader that uses its scientific and commercial expertise, specialized R&D infrastructure, and investment capital to build new Canadian life sciences companies, robust ecosystems, and industry-ready talent through the extremely successful adMare Academy. The Academy provides unique and substantive programs to train the highly-qualified personnel, from undergrads to industry executives, who will drive the growth of the industry – and more than 500 Academy alumni are now doing just that.

CASTL is the exclusive provider in Canada of training curriculum licensed by the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT), a world-class program for the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry. As a partner in NIBRT’s global partner’s program, CASTL has access to NIBRT’s globally-recognized biopharma manufacturing curriculum, will collaborate on new and customized curriculum design, and apply best practices in the development of new skills and training centres in Canada.

Through their partnership, the adMare Academy becomes the Lead National Partner for CASTL; and the two organizations are working together to facilitate the development, delivery, and growth of CASTL’s gold standard training programs across the country.

“Together, adMare and CASTL are building the domestic talent to support the growth of Canada’s biomanufacturing and broader life sciences sectors,” said Gordon C. McCauley, President and CEO of adMare. “And we know that diverse and inclusive workforces are far stronger, which is why priority focus for all our Academy programs is given to addressing the gender gap within life sciences and to building opportunities for under-represented groups.”

“CASTL is prepared to deliver on the economic demand for individuals who are work-ready to enter, thrive and meet the needs of Canada’s biopharma manufacturing sector,” said Penny Walsh-McGuire, CASTL’s Executive Director. “We are pleased to be bringing world-class bioprocessing training curriculum to Canada to help meet the growing needs of industry.”

In partnership with academia, industry, and governments, CASTL offers multiple applied learning streams and pathways for individuals to acquire hands-on technical training, theoretical knowledge and professional skills. Through universities, colleges, and CEGEPs, CASTL will provide specialized courses and customized training programs to meet the needs of students who wish to develop their careers in the biopharma manufacturing industry. For current industry employees, CASTL offers more than 20 core curriculum training modules to support upskilling, cross-skilling, and onboarding.

The CASTL Online Academy powered by NIBRT, offers learners a catalogue of more than 60 immersive and interactive biopharmaceutical manufacturing training courses. With new courses continuously being added, the CASTL Online Academy is a cost-effective and efficient way to help employees develop their knowledge on a variety of relevant industry topics.

For additional information on CASTL, see: castlcanada.ca

To learn more about the programs offered by the adMare Academy, visit admarebio.com/admare-academy