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Specialised training to get started and stay in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector? From the beginning of 2022, students, job seekers and employees from the sector can contact ViTalent at the Science Park in Niel. This very first training centre for the life sciences is a first for Flanders. It sets out to be a unique job simulator with a training hall fitted out with the most modern equipment, a dust-free cleanroom and equipped labs to faithfully imitate the working conditions.

With the ViTalent training centre, the sector aims to offer more talents the opportunity to pursue high-quality training that allows them to get started in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector more quickly. The ambition is to train several thousand people per year.

This concerns both basic training for newly recruited employees or further training for more experienced employees in the sector, but also specific courses for students or the retraining of job seekers. To this end, there is close collaboration with various educational partners and the VDAB.

Training hall with cleanroom

ViTalent is collaborating with the Provincial Development Company (POM) Antwerp for the realisation of the new training centre and will occupy the ground floor and first floor of a new central building on the campus of the University of Antwerp Science Park in Niel.

The eye-catcher will be a spacious technical training hall of approximately 850m² with, among other things, simulated production lines for the packaging and filling of medicines, a dust-free cleanroom to simulate the very clean and strictly regulated working environment of sector companies and the most advanced training equipment.

Perfect premises in a prime location

In combination with laboratories and classrooms, ViTalent thus offers the perfect premises for practical training in realistic working conditions, especially for operational functions in lab, production and packaging. The total area of the training centre is more than 1,700m².

ViTalent is also working on an interactive experience space about the medicines, vaccines and therapies of the future and the many job opportunities in pharma and biotech. In this way, schools and visitors can get acquainted with the advantages of the sector in an original and high-tech way.

Urgent need

ViTalent’s instructors have already trained several hundred employees on the work floor at various pharmaceutical companies. This underlines the urgent need for our own training centre.

Low-threshold basic courses are also organised at three locations in Flanders, for which no specific prior knowledge is required. These courses are open to everyone and form a good basis for an exciting job in the sector.

Close cooperation with trade unions and pharmaceutical companies

ViTalent is a joint initiative of essenscia vlaanderen, the sector federation for chemicals and life sciences, and the trade unions ABVV, ACLVB and ACV, with the financial support of the sectoral and joint training fund Co-valent.

In order to gear the training offer and the functioning of ViTalent to the needs of the sector to best advantage, a close collaboration is nurtured with the VDAB and pharmaceutical companies Janssen Pharmaceutica, Novartis, Organon, Pfizer and Sanofi.

Marian Willekens, Vice-President ViTalent and Secretary ACV-BIE: “Whoever receives training in ViTalent has more advantages for a job in pharma or biotech. That must be our ambition with this training centre. Teaching new employees the right basic skills, but also making a strong commitment to lifelong learning for those who want to retrain. With the focus on developing technical talent, without specific prior knowledge or work experience.”

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