Girija S, Vice President, Quess Corp
The Indian Pharma industry, expected to grow to $ 65 billion by 2024 and $ 120-130 billion by 2030, is the largest supplier and third largest producer of pharma products globally. The pandemic has emphasised the significance of investing in healthcare and pharma, highlighting the importance of resources, infrastructure, and people, with the latter being of utmost importance. The pharma industry, being one of the largest employers in India, has also seen massive disruption with tech-enabled healthcare and innovation.
Newer tech adoption and higher impetus for growth undoubtedly that characterise this shift have necessitated a core requirement for the Indian pharma industry, namely the need for skilled manpower across pharmaceutical, healthcare, and related segments. With several specialisation areas ranging from digital healthcare to clinical research, the number of roles that require skilled and talented professionals has grown multifold as compared to the last decade. Hiring and training candidates in these fields with adequate focus on skilling, upskilling and reskilling has become crucial considering current-day industry needs. Thus, apprenticeship as a concept has slowly begun to take prominence in the pharma industry, which traditionally relied on contractual hiring for its talent needs.
Apprentice training in healthcare not only improves the quality of healthcare services but also considerably impacts candidate retention and skill development. Today, more and more hospitals and healthcare institutes are embracing apprenticeships to create a pool of skilled talent across all ages and specialisations to improve productivity at large. This also helps to improve cost efficiency to a great extent.
Skilling and training for roles such as Chemists, Analysts, Production operators, Bioinformatic analysts, Engineers, Lab technicians, Maintenance Staff, Research Assistants cum Engineer-Bioprocess, Microbiologists, Sales, HR, Finance, Spiroman, and Packaging are commonly undertaken. Hiring for young professionals in healthcare is coherently done through apprenticeships, which helps to identify and skill the right talent for the roles in demand. In apprentice training, candidates build practical skill sets and upskill their knowledge basis the theory learnt in classrooms. Hence, the focus lies on re-skilling more than upskilling. The arrangement is beneficial for both the industry at large as well as the apprentice.
The talent crunch across several industry segments has duly highlighted the need for upskilling and effective training, especially in industries related to healthcare. Government efforts to encourage apprenticeship through initiatives such as the Apprenticeship Scheme have gone a long way to bridge this gap, along with the Skill India Mission, and Pradhan Mantri National Apprenticeship Mela. The 2023 Budget also hinted at a new pharmaceutical research program for collaborative research and innovation to promote pharma innovation in the country. Moreover, 157 new nursing colleges will also be set up to improve skilling and education in the health sector.
Current-day industry demand for apprentices across roles such as nursing assistants, pharmacologists, registration desks, emergency care assistants, phlebologists, scanning-related roles, and pharmacists remains high. It is needless to say that technology and innovation will continue to introduce newer challenges and ways of working across industries. Both traditional and more contemporary, tech-enabled roles will continue to emerge in the Indian pharma industry as innovations surface. From e-pharmacies and telemedicine to health wearables, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered diagnostic tools, health applications, electronic health records (EHRs), robotic surgery, SMART monitoring facilities, and the like, are only a few of the many developments India has seen till date. More are undoubtedly in progress, and the need for professionals to go hand-in-hand with such disruptions is pivotal.
The Indian pharma industry holds great potential for growth and the next few years will be formative for the health landscape of the country. Technology innovations and talent upskilling have birthed the need for apprentice programs, which have today become a fundamental part of creating a skilled workforce undoubtedly driving employment creation in India.