Ireland’s position as a potential biopharma global hub is dependent on acute upskilling, with an estimated 8,400 new jobs unlikely to materialise if we fail to acquire the skills needed.
A new report into biopharma in Ireland makes for a mixture of optimistic and troubling reading. While finding that the sector could increase its headcount by close to a third over the next four years, we’re at a “critical” time in the reskilling and upskilling of our citizens.
“The availability of people with the right skills and talent to work in biopharma will be critical to the continued growth of the industry as these investments come on stream,” said Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD.
Finding some 28,000 people already directly employed in an industry spread throughout the country, an increase of 8,400 staff is expected by the Government, if we can find people to fill the positions.
“A significant number of biopharma investment announcements have been made recently by IDA Ireland across the regions, with a potential capital value in the order of €4bn,” the Minister added.
The report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) suggests a mixture of graduate intake, upskilling of those already out of the education system and continual internal development within companies.
Biopharma is dominated by a selection of major companies, many of which are MNCs with bases in Ireland. Just 35 companies represent 85pc of the total 28,000 people working in the area.
The total workforce is around 62pc male and 38pc female, with the number of Irish nationals working in the industry dropping from 90pc in 2010 to 85pc in 2015.
A vast array of skills is highlighted in the report, with manufacturing, bioprocess engineering, R&D, supply chain management and soft areas such as marketing and HR all under the spotlight.
“The biopharma industry is undergoing rapid change at a global level, particularly with the growth in the development and manufacture of new and complex biologic drugs,” said EFGSN’s Una Halligan.
“For Ireland to maintain its position as a key hub for biopharma manufacturing, we need to ensure that we anticipate the changing skills requirements of the sector and ensure that there is a close alignment between the industry’s needs and the skills being taught in the education and training system.”
Biopharma image via Shutterstock