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Frequently Asked Questions

What is CASTL?  

The Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL) is a first-of-its-kind partnership between academia, industry, and government to address the future skills needs of the Canadian life sciences sector. Led by the PEI BioAlliance, CASTL delivers on the economic and sectoral demand for individuals who are work-ready to enter, thrive and meet the needs of the bioscience industry, a key pillar of the economy. CASTL offers multiple applied learning streams for individuals to acquire the academic knowledge, and technical and professional skills to have a successful career in life sciences. 

Who is CASTL for? 

CASTL offers learning streams for individuals to acquire the academic knowledge, and technical and professional skills to be work-ready. This includes the upskilling of workers to address the future needs of employers and the reskilling of persons wishing to change employment sector. Areas of specialty include: bioprocessing; natural products chemistry; analytics; diagnostics; medical sciences; animal, fish, aquatic, and environmental health. 

  • CASTL offers post-secondary students the opportunity to combine their academic theory with Work Integrated Learning placements, preparing graduates to be work-ready in the bioscience sector. This applies to students attending the following CASTL partner institutions: Acadia University, University of Prince Edward Island, Holland College, Université de Moncton, and Community College of New Brunswick. Learning will be advanced across all educational levels: technical diplomas and certificates; bachelor’s degrees; master’s degrees and doctorates; and internships and residencies.  
  • CASTL offers upskilling for employed staff looking for the opportunity to increase capacity in their current position, allowing for cross-training and development. This stream also aims to increase productivity and internal capacity of existing employees. A pilot project is currently being run to assess efficiency and fit for how best to administer this stream. CASTL offers reskilling for people who are currently unemployed or underemployed and wishing to enter the life sciences industry. The reskilling stream offers support to these individuals by developing fundamental skills prior to entering the life sciences industry, and includes theory followed by an industry job shadow.  

What’s in it for employers?

CASTL provides life sciences employers with a pipeline of highly-skilled and qualified employees, who are work-ready. The program also provides employers with tailored life sciences professional development opportunities to upskill your workforce to address your company’s future needs, enhancing attraction, retention and productivity. By collaborating on WIL+ placements, CASTL offers employers an early opportunity to identify potential new hires and influence available talent in the labour market. 

What’s in it for students?

Life Sciences continues to be an area of high-demand, from COVID 19 vaccines and diagnostics, to understanding climate change and feeding the world sustainably. CASTL combines life sciences academic theory with hands-on skills development to build capacity for real-world performance. Through industry-supported Workplace Integrated Learning placements, you will be prepared to kickstart a career in in the sector, with a competitive edge. Other benefits include: 

  1. The opportunity to contribute to our world by beginning a career in a valuable, high-demand, and dynamic sector 
  2. Practical work experience and a chance to explore and validate career options  
  3. Proven enhanced academic performance post-WIL. 
  4. Increased confidence and engagement in your academic pathway 
  5. The opportunity to conduct meaningful tasks, supported by directed studies, connected to academic goals, that are formally recognized, for credit. 

What is Work Integrated Learning +?

Work Integrated Learning + is the process through which students come to learn from experiences in educational and practice settings. CASTL offers an enhanced experience where the skills that are offered are then measured against defined learning outcomes to ensure a successful placement. 

How do I get involved? 

Employers can reach out to the CASTL team to discuss WIL+ opportunities for students. Employers can also reach out to discuss upskilling programming to support and increase the skills of your existing employees 

Students offerings will be made available through the participating institutions: Acadia, University of Prince Edward Island, Holland College, Universite de Moncton, and Community College of New Brunswick. For more information, students can contact their Science departments.

Who runs CASTL? 

CASTL is an initiative led by the PEI BioAlliance with support from our founding academic, government and life sciences industry partners: Acadia University, BioTalent Canada, BioVectra, Community College of New Brunswick, Elanco, Holland College, National Institute of Bioprocessing Research & Training, National Research Council, Sekisui Diagnostics, Université de Moncton and University of Prince Edward Island.   

Why is this program important? 

CASTL addresses the talent needs in bioscience, a sector of national importance as exemplified by the Government of Canada’s Health and Bioscience Economic Strategy Table (HBEST), that identified skills and talent as a fundamental gap for the future prosperity of the sector.

Currently, there is a disconnect between academic knowledge and training and the skills to meet industry needs and support growth. This challenge, coupled with the rapid growth in the sector, creates the need for a larger labour pool, and one that is highly skilled and qualified. CASTL is addressing these gaps with industry-informed programming consisting of academic theory, hands-on skills and real-world performance that will ensure graduates are work-ready and have smooth transitions into the workforce. The end result will be highly skilled and qualified persons who will power the growth and success of the life sciences sector.  


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