Skills: planning ahead
“To date, Recordati has thankfully been able to recruit highly skilled employees in all areas but as an industry, the Life Sciences Sector is struggling to recruit a certain skills sector, for example specialist fitters and electricians,” Dr Kilkelly reveals.
It’s widely perceived within the industry that a major reason for this is what the sector perceives to be a significant lack of emphasis on encouraging second level students to opt for a trade or apprenticeship after leaving school.
“It’s an issue that crops up very regularly when i t comes to running a manufacturing operation.
“As a society Ireland does not appear to value the trades as a career in the same way, for example, as Germany,” says Dr Kilkelly.
Yet ironically, he points out, Ireland has a strong historical tradition in the life sciences. Lismore in Co Waterford, for example, was the birthplace of Robert Boyle, widely acknowledged to be the father of modern chemistry. And a long list of well- known products — many of them household names — were invented by Irish scientists, including the Kelvin Scale, the stethoscope, radiotherapy, Milk of Magnesia, the nickel- zinc battery, colour photography and, importantly, the column still, which is used in most chemical plants around the world.
“I feel the Irish education system does not place enough emphasis on the great Irish tradition of innovation in the sciences,” he says, adding that he believes this should begin at primary school level.
“Primary school is where children can pick up an interest in science and from where they can continue with it through second-level and into college and university,” he declares. “The graduates who come to us from mainland Europe have a very high standard of skill in terms of practical application and fundamental understanding of crucial concepts.
“It’s important that Ireland’s third level sector recognises the challenges posed by the demands of the life sciences industry,” he cautions.
For those whose qualifications and experience are suited to the company’s needs, Recordati, he promises, is a good place to work.
“Employees have the opportunity to experience a large range of activities,” he says, adding that senior management stay true to a long- held philosophy that allows a high degree of employee autonomy.
He says: “Our structure allows for free exchanges between departments. Change is encouraged — employees with innovative ideas are encouraged to pursue them.”
Crucially, Dr Kilkelly adds, decision making is a key skill development by a lot of Recordati staff due to the responsibility entrusted to them from an early stage.
He said: “The diversity of activities and ability to make a dif ference contributes to a high degree of job satisfaction. In terms of work- life balance this is a nice place to work!”
A group of 30 of Recordati Ireland’s 64 staff at the company’s operations in Ringaskiddy.
Production reactors at Recordati, Raheens East, Ringaskiddy, Co Cork. All pictures: Larry Cummins
Ger Horgan, production operator beside a process reactor in Recordati’s plant in Cork.