San Diego’s life science cluster ranks fourth in the nation, and first in life science employment concentration, measured as a percent of total private employment. The most recent labor market analysis by the San Diego Workforce Partnership found nearly 1,400 life science companies in San Diego employ approximately 45,000 people in a sector that has grown 45 percent over the past 10 years. Despite its economic strength, a persistent challenge facing is finding the employees with the proper skills to ensure the needs of this economic engine are met—especially in the fields of regulatory affairs and quality assurance.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership labor market analysis also reported that employers had “great difficulty” in finding qualified applicants was for regulatory affairs specialist positions. Also, employers most frequently reported “some difficulty” in finding quality assurance analysts.
Although employers had high expectations for education and training requirements, for applicants for regulatory affairs specialist positions, 50 percent of employers polled expressed greater interest in candidates with practical work experience, as opposed to their education level.
So the question is, if the candidate pool is not large enough to service the needs of the industry, what options exist? The report concluded that regulatory affairs, quality assurance, and other occupations that are difficult to fill should be the focus of on-the-job training programs, such as internships.
To help prepare entry level candidates, SDRAN (San Diego Regulatory Affairs Network) and UC San Diego Extension each provide education and training on the practical elements of regulatory affairs and quality assurance. This includes courses, seminars, and workshops on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC) classes, and FDA submission requirements.
After completing such training, both organizations have a substantial number of qualified candidates who are seeking intern positions in these difficult-to-hire job occupations. The background of these interns is diverse and includes career-focused students as well as candidates with prior work experience who are looking to make career transitions.
The SDRAN Internship Committee, consisting of regulatory and quality professionals, actively recruits suitable intern candidates and works with local life science companies to develop intern sponsorship programs. After obtaining a job description and general overview of intern duties from a sponsoring life science, SDRAN alerts its membership to the opportunity via its website, direct emails, a LinkedIn posting, and contacts local universities, including UC San Diego Extension. After screening each intern application, the Committee forwards the candidate’s information to the sponsoring company, which then interviews and selects the most suitable candidate.
SDRAN and UC San Diego Extension are eager to work with San Diego life science companies who are looking to “test-drive” talent for entry-level regulatory and quality positions while relieving seasoned managers from time-consuming “to-do list” items. The result is typically a “win-win” situation, resulting in increased company productivity and a pipeline for recruiting profession-ready talent while providing hands-on work experience and career development skills for the intern.
Some of those interested in learning more about creating a successful internship program attended a free breakfast seminar, featuring Illumina, on November 5, 2015. Learn more at https://extension.ucsd.edu/sciences
For additional information about the SDRAN Internship Program, please visit www.sdran.org, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about UC San Diego Extension regulatory affairs and quality assurance programs, visit extension.ucsd.edu/sciences or email email@example.com.