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The life sciences manufacturing industry faces challenges such as a constantly changing digital landscape, demand for new pharmaceutical products, and a shortage of skilled manufacturing staff. To be competitive, life sciences manufacturers must upskill their workforces with the latest expertise and knowledge.

The Digitisation of the Life Science Manufacturing Process​

The life sciences manufacturing industry is experiencing a digital revolution as new technologies emerge to automate tasks, improve productivity, and help develop novel products. While this shift presents new opportunities for companies, it also poses challenges. One of which is a scarcity of skilled workers. Many traditional manufacturing skills are getting replaced with new digital manufacturing processes.

The digitisation of manufacturing also creates opportunities for workers who want to upskill and embrace the new era. Thankfully for manufacturers in biosciences (and across the whole manufacturing sector), workers have an appetite for learning new skills, as shown via a 2022 Censuswide survey of over 4,000 workers in the UK manufacturing sector that reported that 80% wanted to upskill.

The rapidly changing landscape also creates opportunities to tap into underrepresented sectors and increase diversity by encouraging more women and minorities to enter the field. But how should companies go about the task of upskilling their workforce? Here are some ideas for delivering an effective training and development strategy.

Partner with External Experts

Life sciences manufacturers can use several different training and development strategies to upskill their existing employees.

Augment Existing Staff with External Specialists

One strategy is to augment existing staff with outside specialists who can lead projects and do knowledge transfer to pass on skills to existing staff as they work together, resulting in benefits for both the company and its employees. Employees can benefit from the expertise of outside specialists with experience and knowledge of life sciences manufacturing. And the company benefits because it allows them to tap into the expertise of experienced specialists without hiring them full-time.

Use Contractors when Needed

Another strategy is to hire external specialists when needed as contractors for as long as required. The contractors plug knowledge gaps in the workforce. For bespoke manufacturing processes that a company may not need to do frequently, it might be more cost-effective to use external specialists to complete the work required without requiring them to pass on their knowledge. This decreases the time and cost of hiring external specialists for specific narrow requirements.

Oleson Have the Experts on Digital Manufacturing You Need​

Our team of manufacturing Automation and Information Technology (AIT) consultants have decades of experience working on projects in life science manufacturing organisations. We can assist life science manufacturers in bridging current skill gaps and with the upskilling of existing workforces.

Our experience is available for you to use to develop digital manufacturing methods and systems to support your team in advancing projects rapidly whilst modernising your workforce. We are a technology strategy & transformation practice uniquely focused on IT/OT systems in manufacturing operations with particular strength in regulated life sciences manufacturing. You will already have trusted control system and application vendors. We bring to the table domain knowledge expertise and a whole system view and understanding of the complex relationships between:

  • Manufacturing operations
  • Business continuity
  • IT infrastructure
  • Compliance & change control
  • System lifecycle planning

We have processes to ensure IT/OT systems drive your business needs directly. We are ready to provide strategic advice or specific implementation services. To deliver successful projects, you can use our capabilities selectively to augment the capabilities of your project delivery team. We have extensive experience in complex capital projects within life science manufacturing operations and the digital modernisation of manufacturing processes.

Use Traditional Training Approaches

Traditional training methods still have a place in upskilling staff. Everyone is unique and will respond to some training approaches better than others. Some conventional approaches include:

  • In-house instructor-led training on new digital manufacturing processes.
  • Availability of online courses and tutorials on relevant topics.
  • Opportunities to attend industry conferences and workshops.

Fostering and creating a culture of continuous learning using multiple methods will help deliver a constantly upskilling workforce to meet the challenges of an ever-changing life science manufacturing landscape.

A Blended Approach to Upskilling​

Life sciences manufacturers can adopt a blended approach that combines various strategies to prepare their employees for the future. This approach involves using internal and external resources and formal and informal training methods. By doing this, companies can enhance their workforces and remain competitive while staff learn new skills.


Upskilling staff from the existing workforce rather than trying to hire in the highly competitive life sciences job market makes financial and cultural sense. It’s less expensive to reskill existing staff to be more productive using digital manufacturing techniques, and as these people are already employed, you know how they will fit into your organisation’s culture.

Oleson can help you upskill your existing staff using the methods discussed above. Contact us to discuss transforming your workforce into a modern digital manufacturing power team.

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