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Rob Henderson

CEO, BioTalent Canada

Diversity and inclusion are key to growing the workforce needed to meet the challenges of Canada’s growing biotech industry.


Bioetechnology is one of Canada’s fastest growing sectors. From stem cell technology, to biofuels, all the way to digital health, the opportunities are as diverse as the workforce needed to fill them. “It’s exploding, and it needs every conceivable talent stream,” says Rob Henderson, CEO of BioTalent Canada, the HR partner and catalyst for growth in Canada’s bio-economy that connects job-ready talent with employers.

With 80 percent of biotech companies being small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), this sector faces two key challenges — access to capital and access to talent. “Without one, it’s hard to get the other,” says Henderson. And while Canada is graduating highly educated students, they’re not necessarily highly skilled ones. “We need a long-term sustainable solution by having an ongoing stream of diverse talent coming into our companies.”

Student work placement program helping youth and companies succeed

One way BioTalent Canada is working to strengthen and diversify Canada’s job-ready biotech talent is through a wage subsidy program known as the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) which aims to bridge the gap between company needs and student skill level. Since the program began two years ago, the SWPP has placed over 900 students, over 500 of whom were women.

With women now making up about 60 percent of biotech graduates in Canada and SMEs recognizing the importance of diversity to their innovation capacity, there are more opportunities than ever before for women to lead, succeed and innovate within the biotech workplace.

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