CGT Catapult addresses skills gap with apprenticeship programme for advanced therapies

Programme will address the projected skills shortage facing public and private employers in the growing cell and gene therapy sector

The Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult has launched the first Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMP) focused apprenticeship programme developed in partnership with The Medicine Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) and aimed at building the skills base needed to support the growing UK industry in the development of ATMPs, maintaining its leadership position in the development of these disruptive, potentially curative therapies.

In the first phase of the programme, 17 apprentices have begun working at eight companies in the UK while simultaneously studying Applied Biological Sciences at the University of Kent, additional cohorts will be recruited in 2019.

The ATMP apprenticeship programme is designed to build the skills base in the UK to enable industry growth.

The UK has positioned itself among the early leaders in cell and gene therapies, and as the sector grows and therapies move towards commercialisation, there is increasing need for a range of technical, operational and clinical roles to support the scale-up of manufacturing of ATMPs and their adoption in the healthcare system.

In May 2018, the CGT Catapult was allocated £1.5 million by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

This Funding has been made available by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK to implement the government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and was granted to develop and deliver in partnership with MMIP and in collaboration with public and private employers, a 3-year pilot apprenticeship scheme.

This apprenticeship programme gives A-level students an alternative to university, allowing them to gain a foundation qualification within 3 years and giving them the opportunity to extend their programme by a further 18 months to gain Bachelor’s degree.

The first apprentices are based at the following organisations and companies in addition to the CGT Catapult: Oxford Biomedica, NHS Blood and Transfusion Service, Autolus, GSK, Allergan, Cobra and Replimune.

Commenting on the ensuing growth of the sector and apprenticeship scheme, Keith Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of CGT Catapult, said: “Creating a thriving cell and gene therapy sector requires more than just investment in technology and infrastructure, it also needs a significant scale-up of the skills and capabilities that will drive the industry forward."

"To keep up with manufacturing demand as a result of the significant growth of the industry, the ATMP workforce will need to keep increasing at a similar pace."

“I was delighted to see that the first programme of ATMP apprenticeship drew interest from more than 200 eager students, I look forward to many more companies taking up this scheme and taking more individuals on board."

"I am confident this initiative will make a significant impact in ensuring that the UK’s workforce is being equipped with the unique skills and capabilities necessary to manufacture, supply and administer these medicines to patients.”

Dr Ian Campbell, interim Executive Chair, Innovate UK for UK Research and Innovation, added: “The vital investment in these centres by UK Research and Innovation, with the Catapult, is a crucial part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy. By funding skills, research and infrastructure in this sector we can help develop the solutions to tackle debilitating illnesses and conditions and boost the UK’s prime position in clinical development and commercialisation.”

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