UK 2022 Review: Scientific vacancies in the Golden Triangle behind 2021 levels with Cambridge leading the way 

Our latest report in partnership with CPL Life Sciences

  • Hiring levels across Golden Triangle cities were down 9.1% year-on-year 
  • New scientific jobs in Pharmaceuticals were bigger than across Biotech and CROs
  • R&D was the most popular skill in demand with the largest job volumes across the London, Oxford, and Cambridge
  • Syneos Health, PSI and AstraZeneca were the most active recruiters in 2022


According to the latest UK Life Sciences Labour Market Trends report by Cpl Life Sciences and market data analysts Vacancysoft, key recruitment trends show that in 2022 there were over 4,100 new scientific vacancies published in the ‘Golden Triangle’ (Cambridge, London and Oxford). This translates to a slight decrease from 2021, when there were over 4,500 jobs, resulting in a year-on-year fall of 9.1%.

A closer look at the Golden Triangle shows that Cambridge boasted the highest numbers between 2020 & 2022 (almost 5,400 vacancies), closing the year with over 2,000 new jobs. Meanwhile, Cambridge accounted for almost half (49.1%) of overall scientific vacancies in 2022. However, this constituted a slight year-on-year drop of 5.6% from 2021. London (10.7%) and Oxford (19.8%) posted bigger year-on-year falls.


Sarah Goddard, Switzerland Country Director at Cpl Life Sciences, commented: “The Science and Technology Framework launched by the UK government is a strategic vision and set of goals designed to help the country achieve ten key actions by 2030. The vision of UK research and development (R&D) investment matching the scale of a science and technology superpower is compelling.

Delivery under the Science and Technology Framework would look to catalyse private sector R&D and boost the innovation activity of firms leading to UK economic growth. To achieve this, the UK must attract the best talent from around the world, build a skilled workforce for tomorrow’s industries, provide infrastructure and investment to bring technologies to the market, and encourage a regulatory environment that supports innovation. It can only be hoped this is an enduring framework that will be executed well and see us through to success by 2030”.

Scientific jobs in Pharmaceuticals topped the table despite decrease

At over 1,500 scientific vacancies, Pharmaceuticals made up the bulk of the new jobs in the Golden Triangle. Despite having the biggest volumes, this failed to better 2021 totals, equating to a year-on-year decrease of 10.7% compared to 2021.

Contract research organisations (CROs) was the sector taking the runner-up spot, posting over 1,300 jobs in 2022. This was followed by Biotech with numbers over 1,100. However, all sectors experienced falls in relation to 2021 volumes: CRO (10.3%) and Biotech (5.2%).

R&D most wanted skill in Cambridge and Oxford, Clinical dominates in London 

In terms of the most in-demand skills across the life sciences industry in Cambridge, London and Oxford, the most significant sector in the past year was R&D, which published almost 1,500 vacancies across all three cities. This specialism topped the table in Cambridge (14.5%), reaching the fastest yearly rise in that city, and also in Oxford (0.6%), where it experienced a modest growth.

Meanwhile, Clinical was the dominant market specialism in London, despite a small dip (5.2%). However, the fastest growth year-on-year in London and Oxford was seen in Quality Assurance (9.6% and 3.2% respectively).

Syneos Health, PSI and AstraZeneca were the busiest recruiters in 2022

When looking at the top firms hiring scientific talent, Syneos Health was the busiest recruiter of scientists in London during 2022, publishing 588 new vacancies (52.7% year-on-year in comparison to 2021). This was also the fastest-growing firm in the city.

Meanwhile in Oxford, PSI topped the table as the busiest firm. However, with fewer than 100 jobs posted, volumes were down in 2022, representing a dip of 46.8% compared to 2021. Similarly, recruitment at AstraZeneca was up 9% year-on-year in Cambridge, achieving over 800 new vacancies. While this represented a surge in job volumes, it was a modest increase compared to 2021 (up 55%).

Top firms, Scientific vacancies, Golden Triangle, 2021-22 

(see report for Top 10 of each Golden Triangle city)

London Oxford Cambridge 21-22 London 21-22 Oxford 21-22 Cambridge
Syneos Health PSI AstraZeneca 52.7% -47% 9%
Iqvia Oxford Biomedica PPD -25.3% -65% -43%
Merck Vertex Babraham Research Campus -16.7% 9% 216%
ICON Oxford Genetics Illumina Inc -52.1% -38% -35%
AstraZeneca Catalent Abcam PLC -5.7% 0 -15%
This data was provided by our cutting edge Vacancy Analytics platform, which can help you identify hotspots like the ones in this report for your market!
Do you want to see it in action? Book an interactive demo below!

Related Posts

Golden Triangle – UK Life Sciences Labour Ma... Golden Triangle - UK Life Sciences Labour Market Trends, March 2024 UK 2022 Review: Scientific vacancies in the Golden Triangle behind 2021 levels wi...
Biotech – UK Life Sciences Labour Market Tre... Biotech - UK Life Sciences Labour Market Trends, December 2023 Despite a significant downward trend, UK Biotech industry shows consistent equity fina...