Pharmaceutical company is backing Apprenticeships


Occupying a site in Dudley near Cramlington, Northumberland, Shasun Pharmaceuticals is one of the employers that’s been making a real impression on the North East’s regeneration and drive for success.  Headquartered in Chennai, India, Shasun is one of the fastest growing players in the pharmaceutical sector. The plant at Dudley is the industrial home for 270 North East employees, and it’s where clinical trial and commercial quantities of API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) products are researched, developed and manufactured. The company has a culture of actively developing the skills and knowledge of their workforce, and apprenticeships have always been at the heart of this commitment. 

Working in partnership with apprenticeship provider, Derwentside College, Shasun currently has 45 intermediate, advanced and higher Management apprentices in various areas across the plant.

Manager of the Pilot Plant, Steve Slater, explains: “The Pilot Plant is where we employ Technicians who have progressed from Operator level – it’s their first step into being self-supervising, so we need to support them with training and development”   Ten of Steve’s technicians are currently on intermediate apprenticeship programmes.  They learn as they work, with assessors from the College supporting them as they progress. “We have tried various providers for our apprenticeships,” says Steve “but the service we get from Derwentside College is excellent.  They provide a coherent, organised, structured and professional service.  Assessors are as committed to the success of our apprentices as we are, and the backup service is excellent”

Steve has been with Shasun for 38 years, starting as an apprentice himself back in 1976. “I started as an apprentice operator, and I’m now doing a higher apprenticeship in management. You never stop learning, and although I’ve been a manager for 13 years, it’s great to have the qualification to back up all the knowledge and skills I have – and am still acquiring!  I think it sets the standard too – when my technicians see me working on my apprenticeship, they know how important it is.  We’re all benefiting from developing our skills – looking at problems from a different angle and arriving at better managerial decisions”.

“We need to fill the skills gaps that have opened up over the last ten years or so, and apprenticeships are definitely the way to go. For any other organisation thinking about apprenticeships, I’d say it’s a must – we have a very low turnover of staff, and our employees are very loyal to Shasun.  We can definitely attribute much of this to our commitment to developing them.  I’m a big supporter of apprenticeships, and am happy to work with Derwentside College.  I’d have no hesitation in recommending them as an excellent provider”