The UK-based Institute of Clinical Research (ICR) has been tackling the damaging skills shortage in the sector with substantial increases over the past three years in its delivery of public training courses and especially in-company courses.

This year the ICR plans to run up to 90 customised training courses for the clinical research community in the UK, Europe, America and India, taking in some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. The Institute is also holding 50 public training courses throughout 2008 at its headquarters in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire.

Just three years ago the ICR was running around 25 customised in-company training courses in the UK and a further 25 public courses. “In the last year our trainers have travelled to Iceland, Bulgaria, Russia, France, Germany and the Netherlands to run courses,” noted principal training consultant Martin Robinson. “A few years ago that would not even have been considered.”

He said the sharp increases in both in-company and public courses were proof that “the clinical research industry’s skills shortage is being addressed and is slowly starting to improve”.

A meeting organised last October by the ICR’s resourcing special interest group heard that shortages of clinical research personnel in the UK were running at 57%, while efforts to recruit new staff were being frustrated by unrealistic expectations, salary inflation and high rates of attrition.

The Institute’s training courses cover subjects ranging from clinical trial management and drug development to professional development and management skills.