Skills upgrade pulls manufacturing westward

Turns out that GlaxoSmithKline isn't the only Western drugmaker pulling manufacturing home from the East. GSK recently announced the move of a biomanufacturing operation now situated in India to a plant in Scotland.

"It's all about quality," says John Wiener, CEO at pharma recruiter Fairway Consulting of the trend he's witnessed over the last 18 months. His biopharma clients are "bringing up the level of the skill-set" in manufacturing and operations.*

Biologics is among the most active discipline for hiring now, he says in a phone interview. Demand is rising for those who have GMP backgrounds or QA/QC experience. Opportunities also exist at the management level in contract manufacturing organizations. 

For those in mid-career or later, any training or experience in the biologics or biosimilars area will help them land a job. "That's where the jobs are going," he says. So training can only help.

The experienced folks, irrespective of whether they are currently employed, have an advantage over the bio-degreed upstart candidates as long as they can show some kind of biologics orientation. "They have seen mistakes and know when to spot them," Wiener says. "They also have encountered scenarios in which something went terribly wrong without warning-a power outage, drainage issues, contamination."

Such experiences put the mid-career job seeker in a better position to handle those challenges when they surface. Leveraging those experiences--and explaining how they handled them to a positive outcome--will advance these candidates in the eyes of hiring managers, Wiener says. - George Miller

* Editor's Note: Story updated to take out "an MRINetwork affiliate."