Quality Assurance / Quality Control (QA/QC) trends and jobs in Singapore
The rise of digitalisation and automation have increased the demand for better quality and compliance across industries. This is crucial to reduce manual errors and variability in the Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) space especially within pharma and biotech as a global pandemic calls for faster and more effective resolution of supply chain issues.
Prevention of major compliance issues can be worth millions in cost savings suggests the importance of QA/QC. Furthermore, improved agility and shorter testing time can reduce quality control laboratories’ lead times by 60 to 70 percent and eventually lead to faster real-time releases for drugs and vaccines.
Is a dwindling talent pool of Quality Assurance / Quality Control (QA/QC) specialists crippling the growth of the pharmaceutical industry?
In Singapore, there has been significant investment to attract biotech and pharma manufacturing firms into Singapore to strengthen the overall ecosystem within the country. This will create a viable and fertile ground for the industry to grow, but also enable us to attract the right QA/QC talent to expand our talent pool from management to production control and QA.
With this, what are some trends and implications within the QA/QC market we should take note of? As an expert in pharmaceutical recruitment Singapore, below are key insights of market trends from our consultants on the ground. We’ve collated a few QA/QC trends that you can expect in the next five years in Singapore across biotech, pharma, healthcare, medical devices, and life sciences.
QA/QC trends to expect within the next five years in Singapore:
- Establishing manufacturing hubs to attract talent
Large biotech firms like Pfizer BioNTech are planning to launch manufacturing facilities in Singapore to meet the increasing global demand for drugs and vaccines. Specifically for the Pfizer BioNTech launch, it will be a mRNA manufacturing facility that will be operational by 2023. This site is expected to create at least 80 jobs in Singapore.
These jobs in Singapore will encompass roles within quality control, quality assurance and management. The current plan is to deliver up to three billion doses of vaccines in 2021 to meet global demand.
- Automating Quality Assurance
Automation have been introduced prior to the pandemic, but the uptake and demand to automate procedures was triggered by the effects of COVID-19. With COVID-19 induced delays for vaccines and treatment, cloud-based intelligent inspection system has been utilised by most manufacturing plants to improve the overall productivity of its production lines in Singapore.
As such, there has been a huge demand for QA/QC specialists to improve and ensure a strong baseline for product quality, patient safety, and even data integrity to ensure systems are fit for their intended use. This trend will continue to persist given that reduced turnaround times between inspections and rectification of defects detected can result in an average of 50% increase in quality assurance competency across production lines in Singapore.
- Digital-enabled labs
Digitally enabled labs achieve at least 80 percent paperless operations. These labs transition from manual data transcription and second-person verification to automatic data transcription between equipment and the General Laboratory Information-Management System (GLIMS).
Digitally enabled labs use advanced real-time data analytics and ongoing process verification to track trends, prevent deviations or out-of-specifications, and optimise scheduling. They employ digital tools like smart glasses to translate standard operating procedures into step-by-step visual guidance on how to execute a process. They create a digital twin of a lab to predict impacts before making physical changes. All these are currently available technologies, with time to impact as short as three months for each case.
- Distributed Quality Control
Distributed quality control represents a true disruption to traditional ways of providing them. Manufacturing plants that apply this will have nearly all routine product testing taken place on the production line through Real-Time Release Testing (RTRT).
Equipment and robots at distributed quality control facilities have artificial-intelligence capabilities. In the distributed quality control scenario, labs continue to perform specialty and stability testing. This testing can take place off-site in a centralised location. However, adoption of Process Analytical Technology (PAT) and RTRT has been relatively slow across the globe because of regulatory compliance and adherence to requirements.
Nonetheless, we can expect a smooth shift towards online testing in the years to come, as operations need to start collaborating with research and development (R&D) to develop an optimal quality control strategy, especially for new products and manufacturing sites.
What are the implications if QA/QC compliance is compromised?
- Loss of income
Regulating bodies ensure that medical devices are safe and fit for purpose. Not only can companies face heavy fines if a fault is found, but in serious cases manufacturing can be instantly halted, meaning they could lose a substantial amount of income on production loss. The business won’t be able to continue production until the issue has been rectified, meaning all business essentially stops until an issue is resolved.
- Loss of reputation
It goes without saying that a quality breach could have a drastic impact on the reputation of a business. If a fault within medical devices is highly publicised across the media, it’s easily accessible for customers, meaning the company could suffer a huge backlash from consumers. Furthermore, it could be difficult to attract high quality candidates who want to associate themselves with a business whose reputation has been tarnished; the reaction could be damaging on numerous levels – companies could lose out on both talent and consumer loyalty. This could pose further problems when companies try to resolve the problem.
- Costs of cure
Prevention is better than cure; if a business hasn’t invested in sufficient quality assurance professionals from the outset, they leave themselves open to significant risk. And the resources needed to clean up a problem could be significant. Bringing professionals in to fix quality assurance problems are costly, but necessary. However, it’s one that can easily be avoided if the right people are introduced from the initial stages of the product lifecycle. Ensuring a level of medical device quality for instance is critical to the safety of patients, but it’s also important for investors – otherwise they could see themselves having to fund a very expensive remediation project to fix major issues.
QA/QC jobs in Singapore
Here are some of Real Staffing’s top jobs within the QA/QC sector:
Other top roles in demand include:
- QA/QC Validation Engineer
- QA/QC Supervisor
The Real Staffing team in Singapore also shared that mid to senior level roles will also persist in demand with movement of focus for devices and diagnostics industry due to need for more COVID-19 testing kits, hospital equipment, and regulatory changes across APAC.
As for medical devices, it is already noticeable with new foreign firms setting up their footprint in Singapore, and regulatory affairs tend to be the first few hires to establish new product registration and compliance first-hand.
The trend to hire junior-mid level roles in QA/QC will continue to grow with the expansion in pharma and biotech industry due to vaccines and new R&D.
There is also an acute shortage of validation engineering skills in the industry so it could be a great time to consider a mid-career change into this sector.
To access a range of QA/QC jobs, do visit our job search page below:
Real Staffing can support you with your QA/QC needs
Whatever stage of the product lifecycle you’re at, and whatever your unique situation is, Real Staffing is here to help you source for the right QA/QC professional. As an expert in pharmaceutical recruitment Singapore, we have access to a network of QA/QC professionals whether it’s a permanent role or contract job. If you’re looking for the right QA/QC professionals to assist you, get in touch with our specialist and experienced team via the form below.