Industry Training Challenges

May 13, 2020

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In this 4-part blog series, Hélène Pora, Vice President of Technical Communications & Regulatory Strategy offers insight into one of the greatest challenges facing the biopharmaceutical industry today: employee training. 


Part Two: Industry Training Challenges


In part one of this blog series we explored the biopharma skills gap, and in part two we take a closer look at the challenges and impact of the gap.


Regulatory Requirements


Regulations for biopharmaceutical employee training are laid out clearly and echoed globally. The United States (US) Part 211 of Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) for Finished Pharmaceuticals details the expectations for employee training. In Section 211.25 on personnel qualification, it states that each person engaged in the manufacture, processing, packing, or holding of a drug product shall have education, training, and experience, or any combination thereof, to enable that person to perform the assigned functions. Section 211.100 states that written procedures must be followed and documented for production and process control at the time of performance. The same requirements are listed in EudraLex Volume 4, Chapter 2 on Personnel.


Yet, if you analyze Form 483 citations published by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the last 10 years, 25-35% cite Part 211 violations. There are various infractions associated with lack of compliance to documented procedures, non-existence of documented procedures, or less than adequate training. These findings add up and are a great challenge for the biopharmaceutical industry as a whole to overcome.


The Impact of the Challenge


The greatest risk of insufficient employee guidance and training is human harm. Secondly, missing or improper documentation paired with ineffective training, leads to quality issues and lost batches, which cost time and money. Finally, non-compliant processes lead to deviation investigations and corrective and preventative action (CAPA) implementation. 


When regulators come in to evaluate the situation, operational failures are frequently assigned to operator error; retraining will then be ordered as part of the CAPA. However, this is not the biggest issue. If regulators see multiple unresolved investigations, it will be determined that the manufacturer's GMP standards are probably unacceptable, which can have far-reaching regulatory implications.


Quality-Driven Training


The United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) wants to put more onus on the biopharmaceutical industry to approach training issues and resolve them. In fact, Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has expressed a vision of an industry working at a high-quality level without needing as much major regulatory oversight—one that builds quality in as a given at all stages of a process. However, pursuing this vision requires a multi-pronged approach to successfully:


  • Offer straightforward and crisp documentation that can be shared and consumed on demand whenever a reference point is needed. 
    • This includes standard operating procedures (SOPs), working instructions (WIs) and batch records (BRs).


  • Create efficient training programs that align with the documentation and are driven by clear Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs).
    • Training cannot be isolated and must be ongoing to empower employees to continue learning and growing in their skill set.


  • Create an ecosystem that encourages operator judgement and proactivity instead of just pushing a button.
    • Automation and intuitive design complement this goal.


  • Enable operators to execute proper root cause investigation and make corrective and preventative actions (CAPAs) an inherent part of daily operations if/when needed. 
    • Give employees the tools they need to mitigate and resolve issues immediately.
      • This is not to avoid regulatory oversight, but to ensure that when the regulators come in, things are being done the right way the first time.


  • Bridge the gaps between suppliers and end-users to support strong communication and collaboration. 
    • At every point in a process, from sourcing a supplier to being on the production floor, clear communication and understanding of what a process is trying to achieve is a necessity.
      • This includes process documentation and data analysis to allow employees to continue to learn as a process evolves.


Next Generation Solutions


At Pall Biotech, we have overhauled our training programs and are taking advantage of the most cutting-edge technologies to empower current and potential employees for today and the future. 


Join us next week for Part Three: Novel Solutions to Closing the Skills Gap to learn more about our approach. 


View the Biotech regulatory support portal.


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Hélène Pora – Vice President, Technical Communication and Regulatory Strategy

Hélène Pora is Vice President of Technical Communication and Regulatory Strategy at Pall Biotech. Her expertise is vast, including her previous role as VP of Single-Use Technologies, various industry publications, and as a current co-chair of the BPSA.
Hélène Pora is Vice President of Technical Communication and Regulatory Strategy at Pall Biotech. Her expertise is vast, including her previous role as VP of Single-Use Technologies, various industry publications, and as a current co-chair of the BPSA.
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