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ORBIS: what is it and how does it work?

Posted on: 08 Dec 09

Summary

Keynes called it an ‘inducement to invest’. In this instance, the most recent financial crisis has called for many of the same approaches used in the 1930s to stimulate the economy and bring industries back to their feet. Today more than ever, we realize that education is one of the most decisive facets of any successful stimulus.

A Call to Arms:

Keynes called it an ‘inducement to invest’. In this instance, the most recent financial crisis has called for many of the same approaches used in the 1930s to stimulate the economy and bring industries back to their feet. Today more than ever, we realize that education is one of the most decisive facets of any successful stimulus. That’s why, alongside a whole host of other policies and schemes, the Economic Challenge Investment Fund (ECIF) managed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has launched a scheme called‘ORBIS’– or the Overcome Recession: Bioscience Investment in Skills scheme. Focusing specifically on bioscience, the programme was initiated precisely for reasons of countering the effects of the current economic downturn on the bioscience industry. Another important facet being the scheme’s potential to move skilled graduate-level bioscientists into full-time positions and to stimulate the market by doing so. In their own words, it is designed to ‘…allow talented graduate-level interns to work within bioscience related companies on key projects, to increase company productivity, and to up-skill the intern’. The scheme is now underway and after a highly successful initial phase (involving over 20 large and small biotech firms) a second ‘round’ is due to start in November 2009. Judging by its success so far, this may just be the start and further schemes are likely to follow.

Impact for Employers:

For employers themselves, the benefits are tremendous. Firms choose from a pool of over 200 high-calibre graduates and match candidates to vacant graduate-level roles within their organisations – whether that be in R&D or more commercial positions. While the candidates in question are predominately based in fields such as molecular biology, chemistry, pharmacology and medicine, there are also a number of interns with degrees in law, business and IT. The ORBIS scheme finds, funds and trains all of the interns in question, providing them with substantial training before and during the course of their placement. The average internship will last for a period of 26 weeks. For a one-off fee of £1000 per firm, the overall value of this package to employers is estimated to exceed £10,000. The potential long-term value of finding and nurturing your next star is also immeasurable.


In finer detail, the ORBIS scheme will:
a. Conduct a business skills training needs assessment.
b. Provide 6-days (36 hours) of bio-business skills training for up to two of your current company employees.
c. Help you to identify a graduate level intern, either a recent graduate or an unemployed sector specialist, to work on a technical or commercial project within your company. ORBIS will pay the intern a tax free training stipend of £220 per week for up to 26-weeks.
d. Provide 12-days of bio-business training to the intern during their placement with your company.
e. Supplement the bio-business training, delivered to your employees and intern, with expert coaches to ensure that the new skills learnt can be deployed in the workplace to maximize the benefits to your company.
Help your company to measure the quantitative (i.e. bottom line) and qualitative (e.g. employee development) impact of the training programme.
A broader FAQ for employers is available here.

Impact for Graduates:

For recent graduates – along with unemployed industry specialists – the ORBIS scheme represents a unique educational and professional opportunity. Not only will successful applicants gain the necessary skills, experience and knowledge to push their careers forward with other employers, but they may also find a full-time position for them at the hosting company in question. Far more than a traditional run-of-the-mill internship, ORBIS interns will receive extensive training, as well as a weekly salary of £220 per week and access to some of the world’s top bioscience and pharmaceutical companies. Each internship will run for a maximum of 26 weeks and will give graduates the chance to engage with a real-world research environment. To quote their own pages, the ORBIS internship will give young professionals the chance to ‘engage with new research and development projects or underpin existing activities during the current recession’.
 

The application criteria is as follows:
1. Recent graduates / postgraduates with limited workplace experience and who are not currently employed in a graduate level position or;

2. Unemployed bioscience sector specialists. We particularly seek applications from candidates who have previously worked in the broader bioscience / healthcare sector and who have been made redundant during the current economic downturn.
 

For those graduates interested in pursuing the scheme, click here and register your details as soon as possible for a chance to take part in either the second or the third wave of the 2009/2010 programme.
 

Max Golby

Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18

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