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Becoming a Somewhere - Strategy for Development of PEI Bioscience Human Resources Released

Becoming a Somewhere - Strategy for Development of PEI Bioscience Human Resources Released Rory Francis, Executive Director, Prince Edward Island BioAlliance joins Lucie Morin, HR Specialist for Biosciences, and Dr. Denis Kay, Chief Scientific Officer, Neurodyn at the release of a new Human Resources Strategy for the PEI Bioscience Cluster called "Becoming a Somewhere: Developing, Attracting and Retaining High Quality Personnel"
News Release

Strategy for Development of
PEI Bioscience Human Resources Released

October 29, 2010, Charlottetown, PE --- The Prince Edward Island BioAlliance has released new plans to ensure that human resource capacity becomes a strategic advantage for the further development of PEI’s growing Bioscience Cluster. “Becoming a Somewhere: Developing, Attracting and Retaining High Quality Personnel” is a document that looks at everything from recruitment and retention of high quality personnel, to current labour shortages and training challenges, to ensuring Islanders are prepared for the opportunities in this new and vibrant sector.

“Our first HR strategy released in 2005 received excellent support from our partners at UPEI, Holland College, provincial and federal agencies,” said Ron Keefe, Chair of the PEI BioAlliance, the partnership of businesses, research and academic organizations and key government agencies that is coordinating the development of the sector. “Five years later, the sector has doubled in size, so it was time to have another look at our human resource capacity and our requirements for success.”

The new strategy pinpoints three areas for action: (1) Successful recruitment and retention, (2) Ensuring that employers have the tools to manage human resources well, and (3) Supporting skills development in bioscience and entrepreneurship.

Rory Francis, Executive Director of the PEI BioAlliance said that PEI has to become a culture where excellence is the norm, not the exception. “All sectors of our economy have to recognize that we are in the brainpower business if we’re going to compete in the world successfully. You need smart people in science, in management, in technical and administrative areas, in the warehouse. As our companies grow, as we add new companies, as our research capacity expands, we have to be sure that access to the best human resources is not a limiting factor,” said Francis.

Over the past year and a half, a group of industry stakeholders, led by Human Resource Specialist Lucie Morin has been leading the development of this strategy through the BioAlliance Human Resources Working Group. At today’s release, a panel representing the Working Group provided their individual perspectives and thoughts facing recruitment plans and challenges, and critical areas where the sector can improve its ability to ensure it provides an attractive environment for skilled workers.

Dr. Denis Kay is Chief Scientific Officer at Neurodyn Inc., a bioscience company located at the National Research Council’s institute for Nutrisciences and Health at UPEI. He points to the challenges involved in attracting young people to this sector, saying that the current education system in PEI sometimes puts students at a disadvantage in moving forward to post-secondary schools. “If you’re going to be a ‘somewhere’, having high quality K-12 educational results is absolutely critical,” said Kay. “The fire for science needs to be lit early on and fostered throughout the school system. People don’t usually wake up in second year of University and decide they want to be scientists.”

The report notes the positive strides that have been made within the province’s post-secondary schools, such as the new graduate programs being offered at UPEI in the areas of business and science, as well as Holland College’s two-year Bioscience Technology Program, that trains students to work as technologists in the biotechnology areas related to pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, environment, food and agriculture. The program was implemented over four years ago with a high rate of success, placing the majority of its graduates with local bioscience companies.  With the expansion of the Centre of Applied Science and Technology, Holland College program Instructor Dr Michael Gibson said that the bioscience technology program will double in size.

Dr. Russ Kerr, CEO of Nautilus Biosciences Canada Inc. and a Canada Research Chair in Marine Natural Products at UPEI, said that three quarters of his workforce has come from Holland College’s Bioscience Technology Program.

Ron Keefe, CEO of BioVectra and Chair of the Prince Edward Island BioAlliance chaired the panel at today’s launch of the new HR Strategy and said PEI is seeing good success in attracting the skilled workforce it needs. “We have a dedicated and community-oriented work force here. It’s been a big part of our success to date in this sector and one that we plan to continue to foster as we implement these recommendations,” said Keefe. Funding for the Strategy project was provided in whole or in part by the Canada/Prince Edward Island Labour market Development Agreement.

Copies of the new Human Resources Strategy for Bioscience Cluster Development in PEI, as well as an accompanying PEI Bioscience Human Resources Guide are available online at www.peibioalliance.com.

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For more information contact:

Rose FitzPatrick
PEI BioAlliance
(902) 367-1617
(902) 393-0306
rose@peibioalliance.com

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