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Aptaskil 3

aptaskil Competence Centre expands and goes digital to better meet talent needs in chemistry, biopharma and biotech

aptaskil, the competence centre for the chemical, biopharmaceutical, and biotechnological professions in Seneffe, is entering a new era with new infrastructure, larger training capacity and a major shift to digitalization of teaching methods. Over 8 million euros have been invested to upgrade the initial infrastructure, adding 1,400 m² of training facilities including clean rooms and laboratories, allowing the centre to train up to 6,000 learners each year (job seekers, workers, students), using, among other things, the latest virtual reality applications. The official opening was attended by Willy Borsus, Vice-President of Wallonia and Minister for Competence Centres.

Employment in the chemical and life sciences sector in Wallonia has increased steadily in recent years, with almost 30,000 direct jobs. Digitalization is increasing within companies and so current and future workers must acquire new technical and digital skills. Thanks to a substantial expansion of its infrastructure and new digital learning tools, aptaskil is ready to meet the job growth and talent needs of the sector.

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60% increase in training space

The competence centre now has an additional 1,400 m² of training space, bringing the total area to 3,750 m², an increase of 60%. In particular, the proportion of practical learning areas has been increased, with a new complex of clean rooms (Good Manufacturing Practice, GMP, manufacturing areas), laboratories and technical areas with state-of-the-art equipment replicating industrial processes.

Digital methods for improved learning

aptaskil has invested not only in new infrastructure, but also in innovative and digital training techniques, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, webinars, and blended learning. Initial experiences are extremely positive and show that these digital methods enhance learning, to better anchor new knowledge and know-how. That is why aptaskil will begin the final phase of the expansion this year with an additional 300 m² of training space dedicated to the latest digital training techniques.

Ready to train 6,000 people per year

aptaskil's training courses are varied and are aimed at workers who want to improve their skills, and job seekers who want to acquire new professional skills. It is also aimed at students and teachers who want access to state-of-the-art equipment to train in an industrial environment. The centre trains production operators and technicians, electro-instrumentation maintenance technicians, laboratory technicians for quality control, and equipment qualification/validation coordinators.

Last year, aptaskil trained 3,214 people, mainly workers and students, but also around 400 jobseekers. In total, this represents almost 140,000 hours of training, the majority of which - almost 100,000 hours, or roughly 70% - were intensive training courses for jobseekers. Thanks to the extension, the training capacity has increased considerably and aptaskil can now train up to 6,000 jobseekers, workers, and students per year.

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Willy Borsus, Vice-President of Wallonia, Minister for the Economy, Digital and Competence Centres: "Wallonia is a biotechnology El Dorado. The sector has been booming for over ten years. There are nearly 550 companies and 30,000 direct jobs. Investing in new infrastructures was the clear way to develop the skills of future workers and guarantee the development of the sector. They will contribute to the modernization and digitalization of our training courses. Even so, today, aptaskil already responds effectively to the major needs for qualified workers in biotechnology companies, with a conversion rate of more than 90%. With these facilities, we will be even more efficient in terms of the number of people trained and the quality of the training.”

Frédéric Druck, president of aptaskil and director of essenscia wallonie-bruxelles: "aptaskil is ready for the future. We now have a state-of-the-art competence centre with a training offer designed to optimally train talent for the jobs of the future in biotech, biopharma and chemistry. We are not going digital just because it’s the latest thing, we are doing it to improve the quality of learning and teach the new skills that the sector needs. This project has only been possible thanks to close cooperation with social partners, Forem and the government.”

Isabelle Legentil, Managing Director of aptaskil: "We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of our competence centre with a large-scale, forward-looking renewal operation. And why? To have more equipment replicating industrial processes, more people trained and more training hours. In consultation with companies in the sector, we have upgraded and specialized our training courses. This is in response to the new skills required on the labour market, where existing professions are changing, and new jobs are emerging.”

Ingrid Bouilliart, Forem's Territory Director: "In 2022, Forem advertised some 1,500 job vacancies related to the biopharmaceutical and biotechnology sector in Wallonia. In 2023, it is estimated that nearly 2,000 positions will be available in the sector. By relying on its competence centre, Forem wants to make more talent available to employers in the sector. The three professions most in demand in Wallonia are: research laboratory technicians, production technicians and laboratory technicians in industry.”

The expansion and digitalization of the aptaskil infrastructure represents an investment of more than 8 million euros. The chemical and life sciences sector is contributing 4.9 million euros thanks to financing from the sectoral training funds within Co-valent. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in partnership with Le Forem, is investing 980,000 euros. The European Union and Wallonia are contributing 2.3 million euros as part of the European Recovery and Resilience Plan and the Walloon Recovery Plan.

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