Pharmaceutical Leader GSK is Expanding First of Its Kind Apprenticeship Program at Rockville, Maryland Site

March 26, 2019

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), an industry-leading pharmaceutical, consumer products and healthcare company, recently expanded its apprenticeship program to include a new Validation Technician Apprenticeship, which is the first of its kind in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. The Rockville, MD site is home to the global vaccines U.S. R&D center and Biopharm Manufacturing facility. Validation is an essential component of biopharma compliance that includes qualifying equipment, systems, and processes to ensure product quality and patient safety.

Recruiting and developing talent is a top concern facing many companies in the biopharmacuetical field.  A sub-3% unemployment rate in the U.S. and the growing skills gap have put increased pressures on attracting and retaining qualified talent.  The unique technical skills required to work in such a highly complex and regulated industry add even more layers to this challenge.

Projections for the BioHealth Capital Region indicate that biopharmaceutical companies are planning to add upwards of 2,000 new jobs in the next 24 months. With such an increase in demand, many companies are looking to develop new programs and exploring alternative workforce development models, such as apprenticeships, to recruit the talent they need.

GSK is currently seeking applicants for its Validation Apprenticeship that will begin in September 2019. The company is looking to fill two apprenticeship positions; the deadline to apply is mid-April.

Apprentices will complete a GSK sponsored associates degree while working several days a week at the Rockville, MD site – a center of excellence for biopharmaceutical research and manufacture. While on site, apprentices will increase their Validation knowledge and skills through a series of job rotations and projects of increasing responsibility. Throughout their tenure, apprentices are supported and mentored by industry experts.

All apprentices are considered full time, salaried GSK employees with associated benefits. Students and parents interested in learning more about the program, its requirements and application process tips, can contact GSK through the apprenticeships website.

Traditionally, apprenticeships are not as widely utilized in the U.S. as they are in the UK, but that may be changing.  The success of recent programs such as those run by TranZed Apprenticeship Services, which provide non-traditional apprenticeship programs in IT, Digital Media and Cyber Security, as well as the Validation Technician Apprenticeship offered by GSK are proof that U.S. employers are more open to this employment and training model.

“Apprenticeship programs have evolved from plumbing, electrical, and construction to include fields like cyber security, biotechnology, and health care. This broader approach, with a focus on STEM, gives employers the opportunity to create a pipeline of world-class talent in in-demand industries,” said former Maryland Labor Secretary Kelly M. Schulz, now Maryland Commerce Secretary. (Source)

The program’s track record of developing talent and advancing careers is strong, with many program alumni finding success in the pharma industry and other disciplines while retaining close connections with fellow apprentice program graduates.

GSK launched its apprenticeship program in 2012 in the UK and in 2016 in the U.S. The program currently has over 200 apprentices worldwide and serves as an industry model for pragmatic, meaningful and mutually beneficial workforce development.

“Our GSK apprenticeship program is an important part of our commitment to developing talent and building a diverse workforce,” said Mark Janusz, Global HR Business Leader. “We have GSK Apprentices across the US, developing future-focused, hands-on, technical skills while completing a college education part time and gaining invaluable paid work experience. And we are proud to work with the US Department of Labor and to provide these opportunities for young people beginning their careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).”

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