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The Challenge: Digitising Talent Development Experiences

Janssen Pharmaceuticals Sciences UC (Janssen) operates in a highly competitive environment when it comes to attracting and developing talent. Recognising the important role its people play in driving the company’s productivity, innovation, and competitiveness, Janssen places a keen focus on nurturing its talented workforce across the company’s wide network of operations.

While enhancing workforce capacity is critical to Janssen’s overall strategic direction, delivering talent development experiences in a live environment can be challenging given the nature of its operations.

“Over the past five years, we’ve seen a shift away from traditional methods of training and people development and that has accelerated in the past 18 months” says Tom Nyhan, Small Molecule Cluster Training Lead, Janssen Sciences Ireland.

“We’ve also seen a huge shift in the movement of people. Traditionally, when you got a job in the pharmaceutical industry, it was a job for life. But there is a newer generation of people coming into the sector who don’t intend on staying in the one place for very long. Talent development, education and upskilling are critical in retaining people.”

Claire Daly, Training Innovation & Technology Manager, Janssen Sciences Ireland, says: “We try to push the boundaries and explore innovative ways of developing the talent needed to meet business demands. Virtual Reality (VR) is an area we all wanted to explore but we didn’t have the time or resources to commit to it. BioPharmaChem Skillnet came to us with this opportunity which has really supported the journey we are on at Janssen in innovating and digitising the learning experiences we provide to our staff who expect us to be forwardthinking and believe this technology is the future.”

There is a newer generation of people coming into the sector who don’t intend on staying in the one place for very long. Talent development, education and upskilling are critical in retaining people.

Tom Nyhan, Small Molecule Cluster Training Lead, Janssen Sciences Ireland

Company Background

Janssen, part of Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, has been operating in Co. Cork since 1981, producing active pharmaceutical ingredients and biomedicines for the treatment of immune-related diseases. Globally, Janssen has activities in more than 100 countries, local offices in more than 30 countries, more than 40,000 employees, and R&D investments of more than €1.5 billion annually.

Company Background

The Solution: Embracing AR/VR technology to create a new learning environment

BioPharmaChem Skillnet has supported Janssen in building a learning and development framework that ensures the skillsets of those working across the company’s wide network of operations are continuously renewed and future-proofed. Critical to this support has been BioPharmaChem Skillnet’s role in helping Janssen embrace new technologies and innovation to develop its people across various levels of the business.

BioPharmaChem Skillnet developed a new ‘Aseptic Techniques for Biomanufacturing in VR’ programme aligned to the needs of Janssen and other companies within the sector. This first-of-its-kind programme leverages augmented-reality (AR) technology to deliver a cutting-edge learning experience and allow participants to ‘perform’ contamination prevention activities in a simulated cleanroom environment.

Designed in partnership with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) and industry partners Allergen, Sanofi, Alexion, Astellas and Eli Lilly, the programme not only delivers significant cost savings for businesses it also removes the risk of disruption to production time. The AR/VR technology immerses teams in a new learning environment which is helping Janssen overcome barriers in enhancing workforce capability and increasing digital adoption. To-date over fifty people from Janssen’s Little Island facility have experienced Aseptic virtual space on site.

According to Tom, “the aseptic manufacturing unit at Little Island is the only one across Janssen's network of operations worldwide. Only a small number of people have access to that suite so most employees would not have had access to these types of environments before, simply because they are restricted and people have to be well versed before they gain access to them.” 

The Outcome: Developing workforce capability through collaboration

As well as delivering crucial learning pathways that are reflective of the day-to-day challenges facing Janssen’s workforce, BioPharmaChem Skillnet also provides visibility on what opportunities exist across the wider sector to enhance talent development.

Tom explains: “Because BioPharmaChem Skillnet is industry-led, we have an opportunity to forge strong relationships with other companies through knowledge sharing, networking and ideation around complex areas such as regulation. Several years ago, data integrity was a big challenge for the sector and working with BioPharmaChem Skillnet, we were able to collaborate on the design of a suite of development programmes that were then rolled out across the Skillnet network.”

For Janssen, the BioPharmaChem Skillnet relationship is a key component in the success of the company’s talent development strategy. Tom concludes: “Being at the forefront in terms of delivering new learning experiences not only helps us deepen our knowledge within key focus areas, but it also supports our retention efforts as people see they are being invested in and supported.”

About The Network

About The Network

BioPharmaChem Skillnet is a business network for companies of all sizes in the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and chemical supply sectors. Network companies work collaboratively to share best practice and to respond effectively to their business and skills needs. The network addresses both technical and non-technical skills needs.

  • Contact Person: Susan Costello
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  • Tel: 087 287 6731

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