Eurofins to address microbiological knowledge gap

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Eurofins has launched a two year scheme for microbiology undergraduates
Eurofins has launched a two year scheme for microbiology undergraduates
The biggest knowledge gap is understanding a commercial lab environment rather than a university one, according to Eurofins, which has launched a two year scheme for Microbiology Undergraduates at the University of Wolverhampton.

Eurofins Food Testing UK said it is designed to develop food scientists of the future.

A partnership between Eurofins’ HR, the company’s microbiology and quality teams and the University will give practical experience within the facility for students.

It will take students through core training in microbiology, such as sample preparation in year one, then on to more advanced microbiology such as streaking and sample incubation in year two.

Knowledge gap training

Emma Taylor, HR manager at Eurofins, told FoodQualityNews that the biggest knowledge gap brought out areas such as the pace, need for accuracy, sample volumes and team working.

“The two year programme fits around the studies for students. We offer experience during the first and second year of their studies, leaving the third year to concentrate on finals,” ​she said.

“The aim is that we will have trained and built a relationship with many of the undergraduates during the two year programme.

“Whilst at this stage we do not intend to develop a graduate programme we very much hope that as students graduate that we will be in a position to offer full time roles.”

Traditionally, recruitment could be from in house laboratories within industry as employees would start with some practical experience, said Taylor.

“But over the past few years many companies have decided to use contract laboratories such as Eurofins to meet their analytical needs,” ​she said.

“This has reduced the number of people with practical experience who we are able to employ, hence the need for graduates to have practical experience as part of their degree so that when they start with us they already have an understanding of food testing.

“Also because we recruit from degree courses such as microbiology and chemistry which could lead students to other fields (Pharmacuticals, Healthcare​, etc) it helps with retention if they already have some understanding and passion for food testing.”

‘One size doesn’t fit all’​ 

Taylor said over the last 18 months it has been reviewing the quality of applicants for roles within the microbiology department.

“We have learned that one size doesn’t fit all. We’ve gone from a graduate only strategy to non-graduate but experienced workers from food manufacturing backgrounds, to a point now where we require a mixture of both to have a great looking, highly effective microbiology laboratory,” ​she said.

“When we have interviewed graduates in the past, the lack of practical experience in a commercial laboratory was very apparent.

“This led to a lack of understanding between academic studies and practicals within the education setting and working within a commercial laboratory.”

Taylor said once trained to UKAS 17025 standards, students will be working within the operational laboratory.

“We will train them in understanding methods and following SOPs and the importance of and practical application of aseptic techniques,” ​she said.

“They will work alongside our existing scientists performing such roles as media production, sample registration and preparation, plating and pouring in year one and then onto result production and pathogen work in year two.

“They will use some of the tried and tested techniques of microbiology as well as some of the leading technology in the market (Real Time PCR, ELISA analysis etc).” ​ 

Selection for the programme has taken place with training commencing in March 2015.

Eurofins employs more than 17,000 people in 200 laboratories in 36 countries.

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