Life Sciences Jobs Expected to Grow by 133,000 Over Next 10 Years in the U.K.

United Kingdom

Are you in the United Kingdom and looking for a job in the life sciences? Or, are you planning on having a career in the life sciences? If so, then, you’ll be happy to know that there are an expected 133,000 jobs to be added to the sector over the next 10 years.

A new report called the Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy published in collaboration with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and the U.K.’s Office for Life Sciences, forecasts the addition of 133,000 life science jobs by 2030. The jobs will range across the sector and include biopharma, medical devices and other areas of the industry. Specifically, the report predicts the addition of 43,000 jobs in biopharma, about 90,000 jobs in medtech and another 55,000 jobs to “replace retirees” across the sector.

The forecast does get a little more specific for the types of positions that will be needed in the U.K. over the next 10 years. For example, the report suggests that pharma research and development will require about 19,300 positions, while manufacturing roles in pharma will grow by about 6,400 jobs. While those are strong numbers, the report suggests that the medical device industry will see even greater growth.

The report projects 8,000 new jobs in medtech research and development and 46,500 jobs in medtech manufacturing.

For the other positions, the report suggests that by 2030, there will be an increase of 52,400 service and supply positions in the industry.

Alex Felthouse, managing director, Eisai Manufacturing and chairman of the Science Industries Partner Futures Group, a participant in the survey, said the strategy guide lays out the recommendations to “take skills forward out to 2030” in support of the growing life sciences industry

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“To meet the demand that we have for the future we need to ensure that our industry is attractive to those who are considering joining the sector. We need to make them aware of all of the fantastic opportunities there are across a diverse and exciting range of activities – from research and development through to medicines manufacturing. We also need to ensure we have parity of esteem between different educational routes whether it be traditional academic routes, apprenticeships, vocational studies or ongoing continued professional development.” 

In order to capture some of these positions, the Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy outlines some of the key skills that will be needed by applicants. The skill sets include, as could be expected, proficiency in computers, as well as statistical literacy. The skills outlined are broad, but with the increasing reliance on machine learning and artificial intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry, that should provide more direction for potential applicants. The report notes that there is an accelerating convergence between life sciences, computer science, mathematics, statistics, engineering and chemistry in the fields of diagnostics, personalized medicine and data science.

There are also a number of soft skills that will be of benefit for future applicants. According to the survey, those kinds of skills will involve effective communication, leadership skills, sales and marketing abilities, as well as translational commercialization skills.

With the projected growth of jobs over the next 10 years, Nadhim Zahawim, business and industry minister for the U.K., said the government of the United Kingdom’s hope is that the country will become a “science superpower.” By creating “cutting-edge jobs” in the life sciences industry, that will help the U.K. make progress in areas such as early medical diagnosis and manufacturing, Zahawim said in a statement. By providing a pathway for the growth, Zahawim said this will help “level up every part of the UK with new opportunities.”

In order to meet the demands, the government made several recommendations, including the implementation of an action plan from key stakeholders to oversee the growth of the industry. This action plan is aimed at encouraging and incentivizing the “take-up” of apprenticeships programs in all parts of the sector in order to “establish parity of esteem with academic routes.” Additionally, the action plan calls for supporting the “transfer and exchange” of a global workforce. The action plans have yet to be finalized, but when they are, the government said it will establish certain as-yet unnamed milestones and targets.

The government also points out that it will need to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs to boost the increase of potential applicants, and also create a positive landscape that will attract and retain globally mobile talent. The strategy also notes that encouraging some academic researchers to shift into industry will also be key.

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