The biopharmaceutical industry needs you!

The biopharmaceutical industry has never been more important to modern science and yet, the current supply of suitable employees simply isn’t enough to match the growing demand.

This skills gap in one of the fastest growing scientific sectors, has left numerous prospective employers desperate to find scientists with the right education and experience.

Growth of the Sector

Since the UK Government’s very first ten-year Industrial Strategy for Life Sciences was launched in 2011, investments in the field of Life Sciences has grown by an incredible 1000%. Indeed even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth and development of the biopharmaceutical industry has been a priority for the UK.

George Freeman MP Minister for Science, Research and Innovation recently stated “The biopharmaceutical sector is critical to the country’s health, wealth, and resilience. With Core biopharma turnover of £40.7bn and employment of 66,000 people across the UK, the sector represents one of the great drivers of UK economic growth in the twenty-first century. The Sector has also been integral to the response to the Covid pandemic, and to the role in rapid vaccine development.”

In 2019, out of all the industrial sectors nationwide, pharmaceuticals had the largest growth in expenditure on research and development with 6.9%. In fact the industry was such a major contributor to R&D, investing around £4.8bn, it accounted for 18.4% of all industrial expenditure in the UK.

Steadily increasing in line with overall growth, the pharmaceutical industry is responsible for around one fifth of the entire R&D spending in the economy. This is more than any other industry currently contributing however, it has become apparent the demand for scientists is currently rapidly outpacing the amount working within the field.

ABPI biopharm R and D growth graph


Biopharmaceutical Skills Shortages

While there are Scientists with the right skills, to put it bluntly there simply isn’t enough of them. A 2021 survey conducted by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) provided insight into the skills currently most in demand by employers.

Disciplines such as human genetics, histology, and drug metabolism and ADME all appeared in the top 10 for overall employer priority. In the same report the ABPI found that biochemistry, toxicology and veterinary, structural biology, and toxicological pathology had 50% or more of respondents rating them as a high priority.

Major skills shortages were reported in other areas of the industry, for example computational and digital skills, and the integration of clinical, industrial, and economic research. Genomic and phenotypic insights and the integration of data across the patient pathway to aid both research and treatment were also highly sought after.

There is an urgent need within the industry to find people with these skills, especially as the sectors continue to grow. 90% of all core employment in the biopharmaceutical field is in one of three segments, small molecules, antibodies and therapeutic proteins. This should highlight just how desirable any candidate with a suitable skill set can be.

In their January 2022 report, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry noted “it is important that the biological science areas are carefully monitored, as over 70% of these areas had over half of respondents rate them as ‘medium’ or ‘high’ priority. Whilst the top priority disciplines may have changed since the previous survey, there are still persistent concerns across all biological sciences around both the quality and number of candidates.”

Biopharmaceutical Development (Industrial Placement) MSc

The School of Molecular and Cellular Biology in conjunction with our industry partner Labcorp, offers a Masters programme crafted specifically around filling this employee gap in the biopharmaceutical field.

Taught by leading experts, the Biopharmaceutical Development with Industrial Placement MSc will teach you how to operate in a corporate environment and fast track talented scientists into the industry.

The placement offered is a paid position where you may earn up to £20,000 while you gain invaluable experience. It is not uncommon for graduates to find employment with the companies where they completed their placements.

For more information visit our Biopharmaceutical Development (Industrial Placement) MSc course page. Application deadline: 28 February 2022.

Further Information

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Bridging the skills gap in the biopharmaceutical industry full report can be found here:

Picture captions/credit: The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry