For MSD, NIBRT has trained over 200 people who work at its County Carlow plant, along with reskilling of 150 workers at its Briiny, County Cork microbial site. Furthermore, last year’s announced closure of its small molecule API site in Rathdrum, County Wicklow came as a blow to the workforce but O’Callaghan told us “the opportunity to be retrained in the NIBRT facility is being made available to them as part of the transition plan from that site.”
A visit to Eli Lilly in Kinsale, County Cork also demonstrated how crucial NIBRT was with significant training programmes being undertaken as the company shifted its focus away from small molecules.
The workforce usually “have high awareness of regulations and GMP but all they’re missing is the biologics piece,” O’Driscoll told us. “Most companies who are downsizing would interact with us on that and to help their staff make that transition.”
There is also scope to retrain and reskill those previously employed in other industries, such as brewing or construction, and the Government has been using NIBRT for its ‘springboard programme’ to get unemployed workers to “make the leap across to biopharma.” The scheme has had a 60-70% success rate, according to O’Driscoll.