Skills: plan­ning ahead

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - LIFE SCIENCES -

“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.

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