The ORBIS Bioscience Graduate Training Programme, managed by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), is aimed at helping graduates develop these sought after employability skills by working with leading companies from the sector.
ORBIS, co-delivered by the London BioScience Innovation Centre, offered 60 graduates a paid internship through a 26 week placement and training programme. In essence, a six- month job interview for graduates, combined with an innovative skills development programme.
The internships were heavily subsidised through HEFCE’S Economic Challenge Investment Fund (ECIF), making it affordable for companies, and offering graduates an opportunity to develop their skills whilst being paid. The programme offered companies a chance to select their intern from over 1,000 applicants with degrees in bioscience, chemistry, IT and business management. Companies could then use the internships to work on important projects which may have otherwise been stalled.
ORBIS has attracted a range of organisations including large pharmaceutical companies, contract research organisations, regulatory companies and biotech start-ups. The companies involved ranged from those with fewer than 10 employees to multinationals employing 100,000 people.
ORBIS interns also received 12 days of bio-business training. This experiential training was delivered by trainers with experience of the bioscience industry and a clear understanding of skills’ requirements in the bioscience sector. Interns’ supervisors were also able to benefit from the training.
After one year, feedback for the scheme shows it has been extremely well-received and highly valued by the sector. More than half of the interns have now secured graduate level jobs within the sector - a powerful demonstration of the impact of graduate internships in the knowledge economy.
One of the programme participants was Biocaldol Ltd, an emerging SME bioscience company, which aims to transform the agro-industry through innovative solutions.
As a result of the programme, Biocaldol offered their intern, Jayanie Meinerikandathevan, a permanent position within the company, after she proved herself to be a valuable member of the team.
Jayanie, a Masters graduate from Kingston University says, “I found it difficult to find a job during the economic downturn as employers wanted someone with experience and knowledge of working in the commercial bioscience sector. One of the real advantages of ORBIS was that no prior experience was required, so it seemed like the perfect way to gain experience and knowledge about the sector. I strongly recommend the ORBIS programme to other companies and potential interns.”
Dr Jim Gazzard, Bioscience Internships Programme Director at the RVC says, “The placement of Jayanie with Biocaldol is an excellent example of the impact of graduate programmes such as ORBIS. ORBIS helps innovative companies, such as Biocaldol, maintain their important research projects whilst simultaneously bringing talented graduates into the high technology workplace and providing them with skills training and great work experience.”
# # #
The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) provides support for veterinary and related professions through its three referral hospitals, diagnostic services and continuing professional development courses. www.rvc.ac.uk