Today, the PEI BioAlliance unveiled a new HR strategy for the province’s bioscience sector. HR Strategy 2025: Breaking Barriers – Driving Growth is the fourth HR Strategy in the history of the PEI bioscience cluster. The strategy focuses on actions to enhance recruitment and retention success, provide HR support to companies, address the talent gap through skills and training development, and increase public awareness and understanding of bioscience career paths.
PEI’s 60 bioscience companies combined have more than 2200 employees, representing 60% growth since 2015. In 2020, the sector celebrated $364 million in sales, $61 million in investment attraction, and $100 million in new equipment and facilities. By 2025, the PEI BioAlliance expects to see those numbers grow to $500 million in sales supported by 3000 employees.
The PEI bioscience business community and its partners have collaborated to grow strong, sustainable organizations that are offering rewarding careers in Prince Edward Island.
The BioAlliance now advertises more than 350 positions each year (up from 100/year in 2018). The breakdown of job categories over the past five years hovers around: 50% production, 20% scientist/research, 15% quality assurance/quality control, and 15% business administration.
“The strategy is built on 16 years of experience and well-tracked key metrics where we can look back and see all that we have accomplished, the strong sector growth, and the opportunities we must capture to keep building a robust community of talent that can match and enable future growth”, said Vivian Beer, HR Strategy Manager, PEI BioAlliance.
Recruitment represents the most comprehensive focus of activities in the Strategy, as it is critical in supporting company growth and in enabling new companies to establish a presence in Prince Edward Island.
To support retention and provide further HR support to companies, the BioAlliance plans to establish an HR Excellence Initiative within the sector focused on advancing HR best practices, support and training which will also serve as an attraction tool for top talent.
The Strategy also speaks to the importance of building public awareness and understanding of bioscience career paths through early engagement with junior high and high schools, an increased digital presence, and local community partnerships such as STEAM PEI and 4-H.
Until recently, there has been limited dedicated bioscience skills and training capacity in the biomanufacturing sector in Atlantic Canada. To address the talent gap, PEI BioAlliance launched the Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL) in 2020. The initiative is focused on new skilling, upskilling, and reskilling talent for the bioscience sector across Canada, with particular emphasis on biopharmaceutical manufacturing.
BIOVECTRA, one of the anchor companies in PEI’s bioscience sector, is widening its search for talented professionals. “Our workforce is growing because our company is expanding into mRNA vaccine and therapeutics, so we need talent from a variety of professions. As we recruit our future workforce, CASTL learning is one of the value-added experiences we can offer as an employer to attract talent who want to grow their knowledge and develop hands-on skills for a bright future in life sciences,” says Lester Wood, Vice President of People and Culture at BIOVECTRA.
Other PEI bioscience companies are also expanding and adding jobs, says Beer. “Over 50% of our bioscience companies have advertised positions in the past year. We have established a well-targeted audience of more than 5000 contacts (up 73% since 2015). We consistently attract new contacts to our community/career news audience from across Canada and internationally.”
The new HR Strategy will support other strategic priorities laid out in the PEI BioAlliance 2021-2025 Strategic Plan published in July 2021. These include business attraction, increased sector employment, expansion of vital infrastructure, and achieving international recognition as a leading force in Canada’s Bio-revolution.
- The PEI Bioscience Cluster currently has 61 companies.
- Over 2200 employees work within the PEI Bioscience Cluster.
- The total payroll in the biocluster is almost $80 million.
- 80% of recruited employees working in PEI’s bioscience industry come from within Atlantic Canada.
- Employment in the PEI biocluster grew by just over 800 employees since 2015, almost 60% growth.
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About the PEI BioAlliance
Since 2005, the PEI BioAlliance has coordinated the development and growth of the province’s bioscience cluster and established the conditions for business success. The cluster creates high-quality, Island-based jobs in the areas of human, animal, and fish health and nutrition. The PEI BioAlliance is a partnership of 60 businesses, academic and research institutions, and federal and provincial government agencies, dedicated to establishing the bioscience sector as a key pillar in the economic foundation of the province and Atlantic Canada.