New qualification provides pathways to thriving Life and Health Sciences Sector

Pictured (from right to left): Gavin Gray (Education Manager – CCEA), Justin Edwards (Chief Executive – CCEA), Tanya Graham (Almac Group), Dr. Stephen Barr (Almac Group) and David Branagh (Intelesens)
Pictured (from right to left): Gavin Gray (Education Manager – CCEA), Justin Edwards (Chief Executive – CCEA), Tanya Graham (Almac Group), Dr. Stephen Barr (Almac Group) and David Branagh (Intelesens)

A new A Level is being taught in Northern Ireland schools this year that could open up opportunities for local students to seek third level study and careers in the £800million per annum local Life and Health Sciences sector.

CCEA’s new A level in Life and Health Sciences has been developed in close collaboration with local employers to support the future workforce needs and is a direct response to the 2015 Matrix sector report which identified a significant skills gap in the life and health sciences sector in Northern Ireland.

CCEA Chief Executive, Justin Edwards said:

"Life and Health Sciences is an ever growing sector that already accounts for 25% of Northern Ireland’s economic output. The sector generates £800m turnover per year in NI and is growing by 12% annually. Last year’s Matrix Life Science report highlighted the opportunity by stating that 'The Life and Health Sciences Sector in Northern Ireland has the opportunity to improve the health of its citizens while providing strong economic growth for the future'.

CCEA has responded quickly to the findings of The 2015 Matrix sector report. The report identified a significant skills gap in the life and health sciences sector in Northern Ireland. We’ve worked in partnership with firms such as the Almac Group, Norbrook and Intelesens to ensure that this qualification provides learners with the opportunity to develop skills in this area.

This new GCE Life and Health Sciences specification will provide learners with numerous pathways into a wide range of careers, which will only serve the future, projected growth of this sector.

Today’s launch is another important step on our journey. My vision is for CCEA to continue to act as a bridge between employers and educators. I’m delighted to be in a position to help foster partnerships by listening to the skills requirement of industry, articulating that feedback into curriculum and assessment, and then working with educators on the best methods for implementation."

As part of The Revision Programme, CCEA has committed to support teachers across Northern Ireland during the first teaching of the qualification. This includes recent site visit events hosted by our partners.

Dr Stephen Barr, Managing Director, Almac Sciences commented:

"It is our hope today’s students will be our future employees and for that reason Almac is happy to support this new GCE specification. We believe it is a step in the right direction in encouraging students to undertake science-related qualifications and opens up a wealth of new career opportunities."

Note to Editors

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