Govt-industry pact on track for biotech skills development

  • Inaugural trainees in Agilent Bio-Analytical Industry Development Program complete Phase 1
  • Program open to high-achieving Malaysian science and engineering grads

A GOVERNMENT-industry collaboration to increase the talent base in the field of biotechnology got off to a successful start. Participants in the Agilent Bio-analytical Industrial Development Program (BIDP) completed their Phase 1 training and received their industry certificates in Biochemical Instrumentation and Lab Practices on Aug 14.
The certificates were jointly awarded by Agilent and the Institute of Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical Malaysia (IPHARM) for the completion of a four-month intensive training course on biochemical instrumentation, analysis techniques, research methodologies and product development.
The program is open to high-achieving Malaysian science and engineering graduates as well as eligible employees of participating companies, TalentCorp said in a statement.
TalentCorp was established in 2011 under the Prime Minister’s Department to address the ‘brain drain’ problem by working on talent-availability and development initiatives.
Elaborating to Digital News Asia on the focus on high-achieving students for this program, TalentCorp acknowledged that there was scope to train SPM/ STPM [O- and A-level equivalents] leavers under lab-based programs to take up careers as lab technicians.
However, it said, “The BIDP program must be seen in the context of new technologies being introduced in Malaysia as part of becoming a test and measurement hub, through investments by companies like Agilent.”
The agency said that these investments facilitate higher value-added activities and also higher income jobs. The training provided under BIDP not only covers the practical laboratory aspects but also theory and applications in a specialized domain area.
As such, it said: “High achieving graduates with the basic foundation of the relevant competency in bio-technology are the preferred talent pool to be trained as specialists in the domain of these new technologies.”
For the first cohort, five companies which are active players in the bio-technology industries took part -- Agilent, Chemical Company of Malaysia Bhd, National Institutes of Biotechnology Malaysia, Jabatan Kimia Malaysia and Human Architecture Technology. 
A leading provider of bioanalytical instruments, Agilent developed the curriculum with IPHARM, and the support of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and TalentCorp.
“Agilent shares a common desire with the Government of Malaysia to realize the national agenda for biotechnology,” said Datuk Gooi Soon Chai, president of Agilent Technologies Malaysia and Singapore. “Our partnership will create an enormous potential to accelerate the development of this field as the next engine of growth for the country."
Agilent Technologies, formerly a part of Hewlett-Packard, began operations in Penang, Malaysia, in 1972. Today, it occupies a 42-acre manufacturing site in Bayan Lepas, with a workforce of about 3,000 employees. 
Govt-industry pact on track for biotech skills development The Agilent BIDP aims to enhance graduates’ industry preparedness by providing greater exposure via formal classroom training and real-life projects with participating host companies, with oversight and funding provided by TalentCorp as part of its mandated strategic thrust under the Talent Roadmap 2020, recently launched by Prime Minister Datuk Sri Najib Tun Razak to optimize Malaysian talent.
“Public-private sector collaborations like the Agilent BIDP enable Malaysian talent to take advantage of the exciting opportunities arising from new growth areas of the ETP,” said Johan Mahmood Merican (pic), chief executive officer of TalentCorp.
“Initiatives like the Agilent BIDP focus on building a pipeline of talent, equipped with skills for the high income and higher value-added jobs of the future. It is TalentCorp's ambition to scale up programs such as BIDP in order to provide the talent needed by industry to continue growing and moving up the value chain,” he added.
Participants will now continue with the 20-month Phase 2 industrial attachment program, which requires them to work and learn at participating host companies by conducting research and development in the presence of established industry practitioners in their respective fields.
From the inaugural group, Agilent will host 12 of the 34 participants for Phase 2.

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