Life Sciences Skills Strategy shows demand for 133,000 jobs across the sector by 2030

Image of people climbing a bar graph and helping each other up to show Life Sciences Skills Strategy shows demand for 133,000 jobs across the sector by 2030

The Science Industry Partnership (SIP) has published the Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy in collaboration with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and the BioIndustry Association (BIA), with support from the Office for Life Sciences (OLS).

This Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy, developed under the leadership of the SIP Futures Group, sets out how, the UK Life Sciences sector will attract, retain, train and develop the research, manufacturing and technical skills required by a dynamic and diverse UK sector.

The wide-ranging Skills Strategy, a deliverable from the Life Science Sector Deal 2, forecasts the sector’s demand for 133,000 skilled scientific staff through to 2030, all in highly specialised roles across the sector which embraces Biopharmaceuticals (R&D and Manufacturing), Medical Technologies (R&D and Manufacturing) and the services and supply chain.

It is a sector that is underpinned by skills across biomedical science, engineering, computer science, data analytics, chemistry, physics and mathematics in a close partnership with clinical research and high-value manufacturing expertise.

The work is underpinned by a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative research exercise into the skills required through to 2030 in order to ensure a globally competitive and digitally driven Life Sciences sector.

The research forecasts a growing workforce to 2030 broken down as:

  • 133,000 jobs across the entire Life Sciences sector to replace retirees and achieve our growth ambitions, of which:
    • 43,000 jobs in Biopharma
    • 90,000 jobs in Med Tech
  • 55,000 workers to replace retirees across the Life Sciences Sector

Each of the functional areas of the workforce are anticipated to require up to:

  • 19,300 jobs in Biopharma R&D
  • 6,400 jobs in Biopharma manufacturing
  • 8,000 jobs in Med Tech R&D
  • 46,500 jobs in Med Tech manufacturing
  • 52,400 Service & Supply jobs across the Life Sciences

Skills Shortages

This Skills Strategy builds on the ABPI’s 2019 Skills Gap Research, which highlights the specific skills shortages in immunology and genomics, and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult’s (CGT Catapult) skills demand report (2019), that highlights the urgent need to recruit and retain talent to meet the expected rapid growth of bio manufacturing.

The Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy highlights that a number of sector-wide skills issues need to be addressed to fulfil the sector’s full potential. These include:

  • Computational skills
  • Statistical literacy
  • Leadership
  • Effective communication
  • Inter-disciplinary working
  • Translation and commercialisation skills
  • Holistic sales and marketing skills.

Key Recommendations

Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy Delivery

Produce, implement and monitor a Life Sciences Skills Action Plan to oversee and coordinate the delivery of this Strategy’s recommendations, through a partnership approach with key sector stakeholders.

Integrated Skills

Develop and fund a sector-based skills policy that joins up the skills and business agendas and meets the ambitions of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy.

Apprenticeships

Continue to promote, encourage and incentivise the take-up of apprenticeships in all parts of the sector to establish parity of esteem with academic routes.

Global Operating Environment 

Maintain the UK’s world-leading position in the Life Sciences sector, by supporting the facilitation of the transfer and exchange of a global workforce.

Attraction and Perception

To meet the demand requirement for up to 133,000 jobs across the sector, develop and roll out an attraction strategy to promote working in the Life Sciences sector.

These recommendations are being taken forward into an ambitious Skills Action Plan which is currently being finalised in collaboration with key partners and will set out activity, milestones and targets.

Success Factors
The measure of success will be the extent to which this Strategy and the subsequent Action Plan deliver on the skills priorities highlighted in the UK Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and the Sector Deal 1 and Sector Deal 2, particularly:

  • Attracting and retaining globally mobile talent – including a system that facilitates recruitment and retention of highly skilled workers from the EU and beyond;
  • Increasing the take-up of science, technology, engineering and
  • maths (STEM) subjects;
  • Understanding, anticipating, and responding to skills gaps across key occupations;
  • Supporting mobility between sectors, for example transfers between academic, clinical and commercial sectors;
  • Supporting training for migration of academic scientists into industry;
  • Developing apprenticeships and facilitating take-up of apprenticeships, particularly by SMEs;
  • Accelerating convergence at the interface between Life Sciences, computer science, mathematics, statistics, engineering and chemistry in the fields of diagnostics, personalised medicine and data science