Why are Career Pathways Important and How to Create Them

In the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries


To retain your top employees, you must make sure they have clear career paths set out. A career pathway provides an individual with a structured progression roadmap. But why? If done correctly, your employees will have a clear understanding of where they stand within an organisation as well as motivating them to stay and continue to develop with the organisation. This is very closely linked to a learning and development strategy as development is a major component of a mapped our career path (see below).

Creating learning pathways can be difficult due to the nature of roles and responsibilities. Where possible have pathways laid out with clear objectives for getting there.


So how best to create a career path?

Firstly, it should be tailored to the individual. Everyone is unique in terms of development, aspirations and capability. Some people may not want to progress whereas others may be eager to take on more responsibility, learn more and increase their salary.

We suggest having 3 elements when considering individual career progression:

Length of time in the role

Quite often this is a challenging factor to set. It is important to note, we do not believe experience should be of greater importance than skill or knowledge. However, if done correctly it will provide a realistic target for your team to aim for before anticipating a career jump to the next level. It should help to prevent individuals expecting promotions 3 months after joining your company.
It also gives them and you as their manager a timeframe to operate in. During this period you have time to develop the necessary skills, knowledge and competencies ready for the next move.


Learning and development

Many roles will have clear skill and knowledge requirements. An individual may need to learn those skills and knowledge before being considered for the role.
The individual should embark on a continuous learning pathway over a period. This would include a combination of training courses (internal and external), shadowing, mentoring and coaching. Courses may be compulsory and assessed. Alternatively, you can set development hours that must be required before you believe that person is competent. Once that person has developed the necessary skills, they are then allowed to make career jump.


Performance appraisal and results

When you conduct induvial appraisals, are they delivering on their objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)? if they are then they are ready to make that next career step. If not, then they are underperforming in their current role and are not ready.
Make sure you understand why they are not achieving their objectives. Is there something wrong at home or in the workplace. Be sure to provide the support and guidance so they are achieving on



Combined these three elements will help ensure the employee is motivated and aware of what they need to achieve. It also gives you time to ensure they have developed the necessary skills and understanding to progress in the role.

The learning should be a combination of methods specific to their current and future role. Providing a structured learning pathway is effective but it also allows the induvial room for self-determination and direction. Further it is crucial that everyone is held accountable for implementing their learning outcomes. Promotion, reward and recognition are a hugely important tool in ensuring employee motivation and commitment but they should also not just be handed out, finding the balance is crucial.


Written by Alexander Pearce

Alex is a Director at Educo Life Sciences and has extensive experience of designing technical training programmes for the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical devices industry. He has developed both classroom and online training to support the development of life science professionals.


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