The pharmaceutical and chemical industries experienced a massive impact of COVID-19. Development of new medical treatments like vaccines and drugs, working towards drug approvals, and pressure to innovate caused the surge of job roles in IT, R&D, sales, and marketing. But that’s just the tip of an iceberg. Additional factors like digitalization and telemedicine have significantly changed the future of the workforce in these industries.
To dive deeper into the topic and study demand in job roles and skills, we decided to analyze the pre-COVID and post-COVID state of the pharma and chemical industries. Within our analysis, we crawled over 300.000 job postings across IT, R&D, and commercial roles in major pharmaceutical and 10 chemical companies:
- Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS)
- GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
- Johnson & Johnson
The period included the time from January 2018 to December 2021.
In this post, you’ll find a brief overview of our findings. For more insights, download a full report by the link.
1. Increase in IT jobs
Demand for IT jobs and expertise in cutting-edge technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence surged. Leaders opening the biggest number of IT-related vacancies include Merck, Novartis, and Roche. You can see this trend in the graph below:
The top-ten job roles that grew over the studied period are as follows (growth percentage is specified next to each job role):
The share of future-oriented IT skills (like data analytics and data science) in job postings increased significantly. We associate the demand for future-oriented skills with challenges imposed by the recent pandemics. For example, pharmaceutical and chemical companies are forced to use more IT resources and data analytics for research and analysis.
Several factors contribute to a surge of IT jobs and skills in the pharma and chemical industries. First, it’s the rise of telemedicine for diagnostics, disease screening, and consultation. Second, the adoption of sophisticated technologies like machine learning and Big Data for purposes like clinical trials and medical device testing requires specialists with narrow expertise. Finally, the trend of wellness and wearables (heart rate sensors, oximeters, vitamin trackers, etc.) pushes companies to invest in technologies that collect the data, process it, and present actionable insights based on that data.
“Wearable devices are here to stay, and they’ll only get more sophisticated and effective as they evolve. Until now, most of us have made our health and fitness decisions based on what we think we know about ourselves. Advancements in technology – wearables and otherwise – will eventually take much of the guesswork out of healthy living.” – Michael Dell
2. Increase in sales and marketing jobs
The increase in chronic diseases, a prevailing pay-for-performance pattern, and trends in preventive healthcare force pharma companies to redefine themselves and find new effective marketing and sales channels. Lately, pharma companies have been stepping back from traditional sales chains involving middlemen (like drug stores) between them and an end-consumer. Today, pharma players educate their customers and humanize their brands to gain a positive reputation and establish trustful relations.
As we can see, pharmaceutical companies are coming back to the normal, pre-COVID state. The number of job postings has been steadily increasing. Bayer, J&J, and Bristol-Myers-Squibb are leaders in hiring commercial roles.
Additionally, there’s a steady demand for customer care managers, pharmaceutical marketing specialists, and customer experience managers. Because customer support has become an integral part of self-service and satisfactory customer experience, these job roles are in demand as never before.
After we’ve analyzed the future orientation of commercial job roles, we figured that this field is less future-oriented than IT roles. Supposedly, this trend is caused by a lower share of digital skills even though commercial roles gain traction in digitalization like omnichannel marketing and e-commerce.
3. Increase in R&D jobs
A recent report by Oxford Economics published in 2020 reveals that the pharmaceutical industry took fourth place among R&D-intensive sectors with a 14.2% intensity rate. It’s not surprising due to the immense research, testing, and development work done throughout this period.
Here’s the round-up of the most popular R&D jobs and their percentage growth:
Looking at this chart, we can see a vivid rise in demand for CRO and automation roles in the R&D field along with traditional job roles like biologists and technicians. Companies didn’t stop outsourcing the R&D roles, though.
Like with R&D jobs, the rise of CRO jobs is caused by the recent increasing load on the pharmaceutical industry, like vaccines against COVID-19 and its strains.
The pharmaceutical and chemical industries were some of the few sectors that felt the positive impact of COVID-19.
Funding from private companies and governments, increasing trust from communities, digitalization, and personalization of healthcare played the key role in pushing these sectors forward. For end-consumers, that means that the pharma industry is studying innovations, cost-cutting products, and bringing efficient treatments to the global consumer market.
We’ll continue watching the pharma industry to see where the pandemic brings us further. Meanwhile, you can study other reports from our team or contact us and we’ll analyze your domain or industry for future skills and jobs.