Upskilling pharma workforce during lock-down to make them future-ready
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Upskilling pharma workforce has become a necessity due to sudden changes in the operative tasks and amalgam of new technologies that were incorporated by most pharma companies to fight business slowdown during the lockdown. COVID-19 was unquestionably one of the three worst diseases to have struck humanity in the last 100 years. Through closing down almost all non-essential facilities, governments around the world have instituted lockdowns to prevent the spread of infectious disease. Medicines, healthcare, and medical equipment, which are critical services, have continued to function during this time, but have been confined to ensuring only the movement of the supply chain. These lockdown measures showed each and every industry, the inaccuracies, and the flaws in their administration and working manner. Even though this was long overdue, companies started acting quickly and now they are redefining and upskilling their approaches to create long-term growth. Among these industries was the pharmaceutical industry. 

The need to transfer some pharmaceutical active ingredients and intermediates production back to Western countries, as demonstrated by the supply issues that arose during the Covid-19 epidemic, prove to be a leading factor in the long-term increase of jobs in the sector. Companies manufacturing vaccines and developing a new sales force could represent two areas of potential expansion for the pharmaceutical job market. Those who have invested in the training of staff, digitalization, and an agile business model will be best able to emerge from this crisis. The short- and mid-term emphasis will be on employee motivation and capability. Although social distancing steps are vital to people returning to successful plants, remote work needs optimization by using accelerators and encouraging leaders and individual participants. In the future, R&D that becomes more “virtual” after several clinical trials have been stopped due to the Covid-19, and commercial sales forces are also expected to switch to a new digital mode of engagement with a broader range of potential customers.

Telemedicine is another field that is expected to expand, as the new norm for the contact between doctors and their patients could be remote consultations.

Pharma staff would need to be highly versatile in adjusting to new skills and positions required to handle smarter, automated manufacturing and distribution processes; “multi-skilled” workers could become the industry’s new norm. This transition will inevitably be accompanied by rigorous preparation and integration into new-age healthcare technologies. Upskilling pharma workforce during lockdown to develop and deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era is the absolute necessity. 

It is important that the pharmaceutical industry takes an active role in improving its current workforce through skills retraining and upskilling, that individuals adopt a positive approach to their own lifelong learning and that policymakers build an enabling environment to promote this transformation of the workforce.