Addressing the Challenges of and Opportunities in Biotechnology ...

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Feb 12, 2013 (4 years and 2 months ago)

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“ PARTNERSHIPS FOR EDUCATION, SKILLS TRAINING & TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER “


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i
tt

Addressing the Challenges of and
Opportunities in Biotechnology Facing
Microbiology Graduates



A
Competency Based Approach to
Microbiology Education, Training, and
Research



11 July 2012

University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2


two different “worlds” (universities and VET)


so much in common


so much to offer and gain from each other


yet they exist as though they are poles apart.

38 Years Working Life

19 Years in

Mycology/
Microbiology/
Biotechnology
Education & Research

19 Years in

Vocational
Education and
Training
Management


Drag you, your supervisors,
managers of faculties and
universities, and managers of
biotechnology agencies out of your
rigid boxes and comfort zones


Enrich your learning and thinking
experiences


Take you to another paradigm
.


BIOTECHNOLOGY
-

Opportunities


Huge developments in the last 25 years


Market cap of > US$400 billion


Food, agriculture, animal health, genetic
modification, bio
-
pesticides


Healthcare (medicines, vaccines, diagnostics,
gene therapy)


Industry (biocatalysts, industrial enzymes,
green plastics, biofuel)



anthropology

MICROORGANISMS


Live everywhere where life is possible and
everywhere where life is unimaginable


Whole ecosystem depends on
microorganisms and their activities


Without microorganisms, life on earth as
we know it cannot exist


Harnessing microorganisms and their
activities is our best chance to protect our
biosphere and quality of life on earth

Biotechnology & Microbiology
-

CHALLENGES


Depletion of natural resources
; environmental
pollution and degradation;
extensive
deforestation;

global warming and climate
change;
extinction of species;
loss of yet
undiscovered organisms;
emergence of new
pests and pathogens;

resistance to existing
antimicrobial agents;
development of new
microbial pathogens for bio
-
warfare


Biotechnology & Microbiology
-

CHALLENGES


Collapse of financial markets;
regulatory
pressures;
austerity measures
;

depletion of
venture capital and lack of funds;
healthcare
reforms;
patent backlogs
; high costs of long
product development timelines;
enforcement
of patents against competitors;
patent
expiration and competition from generic
versions of drugs;
activism;
etc

etc

Biotechnology & Microbiology
-

CHALLENGES


Pace of development of biotechnology



The
enormous volume of publications
that has been and is being generated


hardly the
time

and
capacity

to
digest

the
quantity
of information, and
validate
the
quality
if it.

The challenges and problems confronting
biotechnology are not universal
challenges and universal problems faced
by all nations and all economies.


Biotechnology in different countries is
different


Some challenges are common to all
nations. Others are peculiar only to some
nations

It is critical for each country to
identify its own opportunities,
challenges, and problems and then
strategise the development of its
biotechnology.


Developing biotechnology
without such strategising is
setting oneself up for sure
failure.

In many developing countries such strategising
has not been done or has not been done
comprehensively and systematically.


Many have rushed in with little or no planning but
hoping to reap the benefits that biotechnology
promises.

Others have just passively flowed with the tide
because everybody else is into it.


Often microbiology and biotechnology teaching
and research is not adequately funded and
supported.
With outdated equipment and
inadequate funding, you are expected to PRODUCE
results/ wonders.

With inadequate funding and lack
of systematic planning,
biotechnology does not deliver/
cannot deliver the desired better/
higher returns.


Remember:
Failing to plan is
planning to fail.

Many developing countries do
NOT

have a thoroughly researched and
clearly structured and planned
national biotechnology manpower
development agenda or
Master
Plan.

Training students in Microbiology
for Biotechnology

Microbiology and biotechnology
teaching in many countries is at the
undergraduate or postgraduate levels
only.


Even this is not to any national Master
Plan
-

what needs to be taught & to what
levels of complexity to meet the national
biotechnology manpower agenda.


Often there is not even an institutional
agenda or curriculum.

The teaching, content, levels of complexity,
assessments and evaluations are all left to
and determined arbitrarily by the academic
concerned and his/ her strengths and
weaknesses and likes and dislikes.



Several universities offer the same course
BUT produce graduates of varying levels of
knowledge and capabilities;

and all of them
to no one national standard, guidelines or
agenda with extensive industry input.

There is no parallel effort to train
various levels of
skilled TECHNICAL SUPPORT personnel
with
competencies in microbiology and biotechnology
to meet industry demands.


Even where such training occurs, these are
not
based on industry driven and industry stipulated
knowledge and skills.


This will lead to a
lopsided manpower
development with a huge shortage of technical
support personnel

so very essential to drive viable
biotechnology industries and enterprises.

In many developing countries, microbiology and
biotechnology
research and postgraduate
activity
are dependent on the energy,
enthusiasm and initiatives of
individuals
.


One tends to see pockets of vibrant research
activity and little or nothing happening
elsewhere.


The topics are more a reflection of the personal
interests and inclinations of the individual rather
than something that addresses real
national
needs identified in a structured Master Plan.

Funding and facilities are inadequate and
erratic.



There is over emphasis on publications
-

Publish, PUBLISH or Perish!



Problem:
The casualty is discipline and the
development of an industry
supported by
carefully coordinated supporting research and
development initiatives.

More seriously, young people go into
graduate and postgraduate studies and
undertake research in biotechnology at
masters and doctorate levels
only to find
that they come out into a workforce that
is not prepared for them
or
they come out
with skills and knowledge that industry
cannot use
or
does not need
.

These problems and challenges
are often swept under the carpet
and hardly talked about in many
developing countries although
they constitute enormously
serious issues.

Malaysia intends to emerge as a competitive
biotechnology hub.

Among the 9 thrusts of the Malaysian National Biotech.
Policy, at least 3 refer to training, research and human
capital development:




To establish
biotechnology
centres

of excellence

in the country


To build the
nation's human capital in
biotechnology

via education and training


To increase the
biotechnology 'brain
-
gain'

into the
country.


Are microbiology and biotechnology
graduates trained to be skilled,
knowledgeable, and competent to be
proactive and dynamic thinkers who are
confident and job ready
to meet these
needs and make a difference?

Is the training of microbiology and
biotechnology graduates based on a
clearly and carefully researched
Master
Plan and Road Map
? or


Is it just a
random process
that depends
on the dynamism and ingenuity (or lack of
these) of the university academic and the
uncertain funding the academic receives?

FACT:
Both in terms of the complexity and diversity
of biotechnology industries and in terms of
biotechnology know
-
how,
there is still a huge gap
between industrialised and developing countries
.


The
shortage or lack of professionals
, relevant
infra
-
structure,
sophisticated facilities and
equipment
, and
inadequate

financial support

are just some of such challenges that keep
widening the biotechnology gap

between
industrialised and developing countries.

There is a critical need in developing
countries, including Malaysia, for
education and capacity building in
biotechnology
as an integral part of a
well strategised
biotechnology
competency development Master
Plan
.

For

Malaysia,

as

for

all

other

developing

nations,

the

one

major

factor

that

can

decisively

narrow

the

gap

between

vision

and

implementation

is

capacity

building

for

the

development

of

biotechnology

through

education

and

training

that

is

based

on

empirical

research

on

education

needs

and

training

needs

of

and

for

the

industry
.


Competency

is the ability to
PERFORM

the
activities within an occupation or function to
the
STANDARDS

expected in employment
.


The concept of competency focuses on the
skills,
knowledge and
attitudes

expected of an
employee to perform in the workplace rather than
on the learning process.


Competency includes all aspects of
work
performance
.
The emphasis in competency is on
"
doing
" rather than just "knowing”.

Competency encompasses:




task skills



task management skills



contingency management skills



job/ role environment skills

Competency based training is
outcome based
and the outcomes to be achieved are clearly
stated so that:




employers

know the
skill levels required

of
their employees.


trainees

know exactly
what they have to be
able to do
, and


trainers

know exactly
what training is to be
provided

and to what level

to meet
employer and industry needs

This imposes the need for
stakeholder
-
specified

competencies and national
competency
standards.



trainers can no longer train to their own
whims and fancies



trainers and training institutions cannot set
their own standards and levels




trainers cannot assess and evaluate to
their own whims, moods, perceptions,
impressions and fancies



trainers must address industry needs and
design and implement Training and
Assessment strategies to address and meet
these needs



assessments become formative, objective,
transparent, and designed to measure
performance of skills rather than
regurgitation of facts



students gaining a qualification from
different institutions will be able to perform
the same task to the same level of
competence

Competencies and competency based training are believed
by many to be relevant only to Vocational Education and
Training. Nothing could be further from the truth.


Today competency based approach has been adopted
by agriculture, veterinary science, medical lab
technology, forensic science, clinical microbiology,
pathology, pharmaceutical science, obstetrics and
gynaecology, dentistry, public health, nursing,
psychiatry, etc.



Biotechnology and Microbiology will readily lend
themselves to the competency based approach and
one can only wonder why it has not caught on yet in
many countries.

Companies in the industry have identified the

lack of candidates with required
technical and
entrepreneurial skill sets/experience

as a
top recruitment challenge.


This move towards a competency based
approach in training and learning in Microbiology
and Biotechnology is inevitable


it is
happening and it will happen.


The question is:
Are you prepared for it?

Are you preparing for it?

In many developing countries, universities
and colleges run undergraduate and
postgraduate courses in microbiology and
biotechnology without addressing the very
important question:


What do
employers

look for and
expect in persons seeking
employment with a particular
qualification?


Implicit in the competency based
approach is the inclusion of
employability skills

in the teaching and
training program. Why is it implicit?



As we saw earlier,
competency is the
ability to perform the activities within
an occupation or function to the
standard expected in
employment.


Employability skills
are the
non
-
technical skills and competencies
required not only to gain
employment, but also to progress
within an enterprise so as to
achieve one’s potential and
contribute successfully to the
enterprise’s strategic directions.

1.
communication skills
,
which contribute to
productive and harmonious relations between
employees and customers


2.
teamwork skills
,
which contribute to productive
working relationships and outcomes


3.
problem
-
solving skills
,
which contribute to
productive outcomes


4.
initiative and enterprise skills
,
which
contribute to innovative outcomes


5.
planning and organising skills,
which
contribute to long
-
term and short
-
term strategic
planning


6.
self
-
management skills,

which contribute to
employee satisfaction and growth


7.
learning skills
,
which contribute to ongoing
improvement and expansion in employee and
company operations and outcomes


8.
technology skills
,
which contribute to effective
execution of tasks.

Employability
Skill

Industry
/
enterprise requirements for this qualification
include
:

Communication


Establish and maintain effective communication
and consultation with all personnel and clients to
ensure smooth and efficient operations


Prepare and maintain quality documentation and
keep accurate data records

Teamwork


Discuss development opportunities with
appropriate personnel to assess and confirm
requirements


Implement and maintain appropriate participative
occupational health and safety (OHS) processes
with employees and their representatives


Empower
work groups/teams in dealing with
technical and work flow problems and suggest
improvements


Develop team members through motivating,
mentoring, coaching and promoting team cohesion
to achieve planned outcomes

Problem
solving


Troubleshoot testing equipment and testing issues
related to production processes, and
communication between laboratory processes and
computer systems to identify problems and to
recommend corrective action


Identify and resolve complex problems by using
agreed problem solving strategies and act to
prevent their recurrence


Modify products and applications to meet evaluation
recommendations

Initiative
and
enterprise


Identify areas for systems improvement


Develop and introduce practices to improve the
work environment


Recommend improvements for future projects


Initiate trial and evaluate corrective action and make
appropriate adjustments

Are you preparing your
microbiology and
biotechnology students
with
Employability Skills
?

For

the

teaching

and

research

in

biotechnology

to

be

really

relevant

to

the

current

and

projected

growth

and

development

of

biotechnology

in

the

country,

the

competency

needs

of

the

whole

industry

and

all

the

stakeholders

in

biotechnology

(from

students

and

technical

support

staff

all

the

way

up

the

to

the

very

top

of

government

agencies

and

biotechnology

enterprises)

needs

to

be

undertaken
.



This

process

is

known

as

competency

profiling
.


Competency profile forms the
blueprint or
Master Plan for capacity building
of an
industry and organisations in the industry.


It maps the
functional, managerial, and
behavioural attributes
that are required for
each position in the industry or in an
organization in an industry
so that the right
person for the right job is found or
trained at the right time.

Only a capacity building or talent
development process that is
competency
-
based can help a
company or an industry
bridge
the gap between vision and
implementation.

Competencies and competency profiling feature
prominently in every successful biotechnology
initiative.


The Competency Profiling models for
Bioindustry
:



United States

(Arizona, Iowa, Ohio,
N.Carolina
,
Pennsylvania, California, Baltimore, and Dept.
Labour
);


Canada

(Ontario, Toronto);


Europe

(
Biovalley
, Scotland, Ireland),


Australia

(Queensland) and other such
countries


The main objective and scope of the
Competency Profiling are to answer the question:




What will it take to grow the biotechnology
industry in Malaysia
and to
provide a

National
Blueprint or Master Plan
for the Malaysia to
prepare its

biotechnology workforce to have
the
right skills for right biotechnology jobs and
investments
through education and training?


The following steps form part of the Competency Profiling
exercise



1.
Undertake Specific Occupational Analysis

(both for
information available locally as well as on a global basis)

2.
Undertake Workplace Skills Auditing

(both for
information available locally as well as on a global basis)

3.
Identify Existing and Future Competency Gaps

4.
Identify Existing and Future Industry Sector
Competency Gaps

5.
Conduct Detailed Training Needs Analysis

(both for
information available locally as well as on a global basis)

6.
Develop Competency Profile
and
Talent Needs

It is useful at this juncture to look at
the “
Training Pyramid
” and the

Training Iceberg
” analogies to
better appreciate the importance
and value of competency based
training and competency profiling

Skilled and semi skilled

CEO

Upper level managers

Middle managers

Training and education
must have form,
function and an anchor.

In education and training terms, icebergs represent
the organizations that exist in isolation from
organised competency development.

They drift staying afloat and noticeable only as
long as they take to melt. They are menace to
navigation and they do not last very long in the
light of day.

Any course program, organization or industry
that is not founded on competencies will be
like the iceberg:


End up with no definite shape, no definite
structure, no definite direction and
objective, no definite outcomes


Constantly draining the funds and not gain
anything but dissolve and disappear leaving
nothing behind to show for expenditure and
resources spent.

For microbiology and biotechnology education,
training, and research, the
competency profile
and
the
competency based approach
will have huge
impact and influence.


The education and training will become more
directed and more targeted to optimise human
capital development and greater rapport with
industry.


The employability of graduates becomes clearly
defined.


Needs of the nation are better met

Message and Challenge to YOU

1.
Adopt the competency based approach to
teaching and training in Microbiology and
Biotechnology

2.
Include Employability Skills as part of your
training of Microbiologists and
Biotechnologists

3.
Avoid “research for research sake” and
“research for publications sake”

4.
Form a inter
-
university team and put up a
joint proposal for funding to conduct the
Competency Profile for Biotechnology
Development and Growth in Malaysia

Message and Challenge to YOU

5.
Form inter
-
university action team to develop one
single national competency based undergraduate
training program for Microbiology and for
Biotechnology to be adopted by all

6.
Form inter
-
university R&D body to design and
determine research programs to meet the nation’s
needs

7.
Use the Competency profile and develop for the VET
sector, skills development programs for technical
support staff for microbiology and biotechnology

8.
Use the Competency Profile to consolidate the
teaching and research in microbiology and
biotechnology

What are the
RISKS

to the growth of biotechnology and
education and training of microbiologists and the nation’s
economy
IF YOU DO NOT:



resort to a competency based approach?


carry out a competency profile and training needs
analysis for biotechnology?


plan all aspects of the biotechnology development
including your manpower development based on the
competency profile?


incorporate employability skills in the training?


pre
-
empt the trends, developments and changes
forming in the horizon and gathering speed towards
you and act now?

What happens if we continue to feel safe in our
comfort zones and stick to

training for training
sake
’, ‘
knowledge for knowledge sake
’ and


research for research sake
‘ and “
research for
publications sake




What happens if a nation continues to invest in
and undertake biotechnology just because
everyone else is
without comprehensively
profiling the needs and requirements of the
industry
in that nation and without involving all
the stakeholders?

These are not trick questions
.


One does not need to be a
genius to answer these.


I will leave it to you to ponder
and reflect on these questions
and ACT NOW!

I wish all of you the very best
in your research and studies.


Always aim for quality of the
highest standards


Learn and Learn. Never Ever
Stop Learning

AiTT wishes All Our Muslim
Friends


Selamat Berpuasa

and

Eid Mubarak

Maaf Zahir Batin