New jobs in the UK life sciences sector hit all-time highs in 2021 amid a record injection of government healthcare funding to position Britain as a global life sciences superpower post-Brexit, according to new research.
An annual labour market review by recruiters Cpl Life Sciences and data analytics firm Vacancysoft found that scientific vacancies in UK pharmaceuticals, biotech, contract research organizations and medical devices were up 58% in 2021 compared to 2020.
The most active recruiter in UK life sciences was AstraZeneca, which published over 1,000 new professional scientific vacancies last year, representing a rise of 49% year-on-year. PPD experienced the fastest growth, with a rise of 186.4% in new jobs compared to 2020.
James Chaplin, CEO of Vacancysoft, said that the UK “had a red hot life sciences labour market in 2021, following a 2020 where vacancies more or less maintained the same levels compared to 2019.” He added: “The government’s favourable conditions and incentives for the growth of the industry might see these new higher levels of new jobs maintained. No longer able to have frictionless trade with the EU, pharmaceuticals may opt to scale up in the UK instead.”
The data shows that R&D specialists are the most sought after experts, with vacancies for this function dominating the labour market, and rising by 71% year-on-year. Professional clinical vacancies, second by volume in the UK, experienced a 102% rise in relation to 2020. Hiring for PCV/drug safety experts saw the largest growth (107% year-on-year), while medical affairs vacancies were the most muted (30.7% year-on-year).
There has also been a significant hike in recruitment in CROs, the report continues, as pharma and biotech companies outsource drug development and discovery. Scientific vacancies in CROs are now broadly identical to those recorded in pharma firms, with hiring levels up 99% year-on-year. In contrast, pharma recruitment is up by only 46% compared to 2020.