A group of colleagues are standing together and smiling into the camera at the launch of the NOA at NIBRT.
From left: Kate Cotter, Aleksandra Ostropolska, Killian O'Driscoll, Shada Warreth and Adam Pritchard at the launch of NIBRT Online Academy. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Online NIBRT training wants to build ‘knowledged workers’ for biopharma

22 Jan 2020

The NIBRT Online Academy will give users access to an interactive and routinely updated library of biopharma courses.

Learning and development is an important facet of a successful and satisfying career, and it’s no different for people working in biopharma manufacturing. That’s why Ireland’s National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) has developed a new online learning platform.

The NIBRT Online Academy (NOA) was launched yesterday (21 January) in response to growing global demand for biopharma manufacturing talent. It’s a field in need of highly trained people with the right mix of technical and soft skills. In fact, here in Ireland, 20 of the world’s top life sciences companies are regularly expanding their teams.

To help prepare the talent pipeline for such companies, NOA is aiming to give people online learning options that are easily accessible, interactive and cost-effective. It consists of a library of training courses that students can log on to through their own devices, bringing them content such as 3D models, animations and virtual simulations. According to NIBRT, the NOA library will be updated with additional courses every quarter.

To learn more, we spoke to NIBRT’s training director, John Milne.

John Milne is standing in front of a stairs at the NIBRT office and smiling into the camera.

John Milne. Image: NIBRT

What sets these training courses apart from others?

These new courses will provide our clients with easy access to interactive, flexible and cost-effective online learning solutions that can be used as a component of skills development within the biopharma manufacturing space.

What was the motivation behind setting them up?

In conversation with our manufacturing client base it became evident that access to online learning solutions that could be used by a wider range of colleagues would be a highly beneficial option. NOA will allow trainees who cannot visit our facility in person to experience the NIBRT training model remotely.

Will they help to narrow the skills gaps in the sector?

Yes. Indeed, the focus in today’s biopharma industry is to build what we refer to as ‘knowledged workers’, where personnel have a fundamental understanding of biomanufacturing operations and associated regulatory activities. The NOA portfolio will enable users to access selected content that will help with the skills gaps they need to address as part of their particular role.

Who should apply for the courses?

In general, the first series of courses will be applicable to applicants with a STEM background who may have recently graduated from their academic programme.

Courses are also applicable to entry or mid-level management working in the biopharma industry or related industries, and indeed those looking to upskill or cross-skill within the industry.

How much prior experience do applicants need?

For the first wave of introductory courses, prior experience is not necessarily a prerequisite.

The courses contain multimedia content, such as animations and virtual simulations, designed to guide those learners who may be new to biopharma.

How exactly will they run? Will there be assignments and a certain amount of time commitment required per week?

To ensure maximum flexibility, NOA will offer a portfolio of on-demand online content addressing key disciplines within the biopharma industry. Lessons can be purchased individually or can be purchased by discipline.

Typical online courses can be fully completed in 45 to 90 minutes. This includes covering the theoretical content and successfully completing an online assessment at the end of every course. Certificates of completion will be issued and can be added to attendees’ training records to document their development.

What will be the benefits to people who complete these courses?

Users of NOA will be able to flexibly learn when they want using multiple technologies and choose content that is most relevant to them. They will get the chance to increase their fundamental knowledge and appreciation of key disciplines within biopharma manufacturing.

Will there be any other benefits than the hard skills being taught?

We believe that completion of NOA course content will be highly rewarding and will stimulate users to continue their learning journey. This will ensure that they are in a great position to be more successful within the exciting biopharma industry.

Do you have any advice for someone thinking about applying for a course?

Each course has a descriptor that will define the key content to be covered along with the associated learning outcomes, which will guide the user to select the course that best represents their immediate needs.

The online courses have been designed by the NIBRT team to be user friendly, immersive and interactive, utilising instructional design. So we believe that users will have a very positive learning experience.

We encourage individuals interested in increasing their knowledge to reach out and experience NOA. Further details are available at noa.nibrt.ie.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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