A pioneering programme to help qualified science graduates who lack practical lab skills become ‘work ready’ for Scotland’s booming life sciences sector has achieved a significant breakthrough with almost all of those undertaking the pilot initiative finding jobs.
The Science Graduates for Work programme is funded by Skills Development Scotland and delivered by Forth Valley College, in partnership with JobcentrePlus.
The 12-week scheme combines college-based work with a placement at a life sciences company and has been designed to give graduates vital bench techniques and employability skills.
Nine graduates embarked on the course upon its launch in March this year and eight have already secured high profile jobs in the life sciences industry.
A further nine graduates are currently undertaking the programme and the initiative will be held again for another intake of graduates in April 2011.
Head of the Applied Science and Computing department at Forth Valley College Joanna McGillivray said: “Employers across Scotland have been telling us they are struggling to find the right people to fill the vacancies they have, as science graduates don’t have the range of lab skills necessary to do these jobs.
“Since we started the Science Graduates for Work programme, we’ve had a terrific response from the industry, with over 20 companies in the sector now keen to offer placements and help these graduates gain the skills they need.
“It has been a tremendous success already, with almost all of those undertaking the pilot project earlier this year already entering the jobs market.”
Scotland has a reputation as one of the top five emerging locations in the world for life sciences, with the industry worth £3 billion a year to the Scottish economy and employs an estimated 32,500 staff.
These numbers are set to increase in the years to come, with the sector identified as one offering significant potential for high growth.
Strategic Relations Manager for Life Sciences at Skills Development Scotland Gill Blair said: “The success of this project demonstrates that while Scotland has the talent, skills are fundamental to help people achieve their personal goals and for businesses to grow.
“It is clear the Science Graduates for Work programme is plugging a skills gap identified by the industry and will offer many more opportunities for talented graduates to find the jobs they want.
“Given the success of this pilot project at Forth Valley College, we will continue to work with our partners to investigate opportunities to roll the programme out in other colleges across Scotland.”
The Science Graduates for Work programme was developed by Forth Valley College, SEMTA (the Sector Skills Council for the Science sector), JobcentrePlus and funded by Skills Development Scotland.