Life sciences industry’s search for talent is becoming more challenging: study

By Greg Slabodkin, ScienceBoard Editor in Chief

June 15, 2022 -- While more professionals are engaged in life sciences research in the U.S. and a record number of people are graduating in the biological and biomedical sciences, the ability of employers to find life sciences research talent is proving extremely difficult, according to a new report from CBRE.

“Fierce competition for talent -- exacerbated by demographic changes, pandemic-induced burnout, and shifting family responsibilities -- presents challenges as the industry seeks to meet growing demand for its products and services,” states the report.

CBRE’s report, “Life Sciences Research Talent 2022: The Search to Sustain an Industry Boom,” finds that the U.S. life sciences industry is among the “hardest-hit” industries with scientific and professional roles under the most intense pressure.

As the report notes, the innovation of the life sciences industry is driven by biochemists, biological scientists, chemists, and skilled laboratory support staff. The largest research occupation is medical scientists (excluding epidemiologists), according to CBRE, a role that has grown 131% over the past 20 years.

Chemists are the next largest life sciences research occupation. However, the role has grown below average over the past 20 years as the industry has shifted to biologics over recent decades. During that time, much greater growth has been among biochemists and biophysicists (167%), other biological scientists (87%), and most notably data scientists (1,363%).

Still, as total employment has rebounded from the 2020 downturn, the report points out that the life sciences industry “has continued to grow at its fastest pace on record” but with most of the new jobs in roles outside of the core research functions.

“The life sciences revolution remains firmly in place but the search for talent has become more challenging,” the report concludes. The report comes as biotech companies met this week at the 2022 Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) International Convention in San Diego.

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