The UK life sciences industry is facing a skills shortage that could threaten the research and development of new medicines, according to a report by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).
There are major skills gaps in mathematical and computational areas, reflecting recent changes in the industry, specifically the development of systems biology and health informatics, the report ‘Bridging the skills gap in the biopharmaceutical industry’ points out.
The report, published on 11 November 2015, also said there is a need for individuals who have a knowledge of bioinformatics, statistics and data mining, as well as health economics and outcomes. There is also a continued need for professionals with experience in translational medicine and clinical pharmacology — shortages that were originally identified by the ABPI in 2008 when it published its last industry skills assessment.
The ABPI says there are recruitment problems linked to applicants with appropriate skills and also the quality of the candidates.
“Recruitment of experienced staff is a concern across all these areas but, for many, there are also issues with recruiting recently qualified graduates and or PhD/post-docs,” says the report, which was launched at the ABPI’s annual research and development conference.
The ABPI says the industry needs to work with the government and health and education policymakers to address the “complexities of the challenges ahead”.
It also criticised the government for going back on its decision to support the Science Industry Partnership (SIP) – an industry and employer-led initiative that aims to identify and address skills gaps and support training.