Record job growth in Irish life sciences driven by surge in biotech vacancies

Dec 16, 2021 | Life Sciences, News

  • Recruitment in Ireland’s life sciences industry up 14.9% year-on-year
  • New jobs in biotech 50% up on 2020, 155% higher than pre-pandemic levels
  • Abbott with most vacancies; Randox experiences largest surge (615% year-on-year)

Ireland’s life sciences industry is enjoying a record year of recruitment as it recovers from the effects of the pandemic and strengthens its reputation as a global pharmaceutical hub, according to new research.

New data from pharma recruiters Cpl Life Sciences and data analytics firm Vacancysoft shows that life sciences firms in Ireland recorded over 3,400 vacancies in 2021 — up 14.9% year-on-year and 4.5% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The biotech sector in particular is driving this growth. While new vacancies in contract research organisations (CROs), medical device companies or pharmaceuticals firms fell or stagnated in the first year of the pandemic, hiring levels in biotech shot up 69% in relation to 2019. 

In 2021, professional recruitment is up across all life sciences sectors in Ireland. New jobs in biotech grew the most (50.8% year-on-year), followed by CROs (28%), medical devices (8.6%) and then pharma (5.5%). 

Yvette Cleland, CEO, Cpl Life Sciences, says: “Ireland has a talented workforce, a superb education system and favourable tax incentives. That and its global connectivity has enabled it to compete for foreign direct investment and consolidate its status as a global leader in life sciences.” 

Out of scientific vacancies, quality assurance specialists are the most sought after, accounting for 37.5% of all new jobs, followed by R&D experts (23.7%) and drug manufacturing professionals (9.2%). Among recruitment for non-scientific roles, most in-demand are engineers (35.6%), followed by IT professionals (18.3%) and procurement/supply chain specialists (15.4%).

Abbott tops the list of life sciences firms by vacancy volumes in 2021, publishing over 600 vacancies (172.1% year-on-year) followed by PSC Biotech (480 vacancies; 34.2% year-on-year) and Merck (360 vacancies; 12.2% year-on-year). Hiring at fifteenth-placed Randox, meanwhile, is surging with recruitment at the company up 615% year-on-year.

Yvette Cleland continues: “Supply chain innovation, based on lessons learned throughout covid-19, is driving an already collaborative ecosystem. More agility within R&D innovation whilst building an embedded resilience will be key to the country’s continued success. Crucially, addressing future workforce skills will attract continued FDI — something with which Irish pharma already has a strong track record.”

Top 5 Companies

Professional life sciences vacancies, Ireland, 2019-21

# Company Sector 2019 2020 2021 (Jan-Oct) Y/Y 21/20
1 Abbott Pharma 304 222 604 172,1%
2 PSC Biotech Biotech 181 357 479 34,2%
3 Merck Pharma 337 320 359 12,2%
4 Stryker Med dev 227 156 356 128,2%
5 J&J Pharma 272 237 346 46,0%
15 Randox Biotech 6 20 143 615,0%


[Photo by CDC on Unsplash]

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