Compliance talent

Record European demand for regulatory affairs specialists

Hiring for regulatory affairs specialists in Europe has reached record levels in the first months of 2021, according to new labour market data from Cpl Life Sciences and Vacancysoft. In a difficult year for global health, professional RA recruitment in life sciences in the EU27 initially fell by 9.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter in Q2 2020 as the covid-19 virus emerged. This reflects a 15.6 per cent drop compared to the same quarter a year earlier.

However, senior RA vacancies in later months rallied, finishing 4.9 per cent higher year-on-year in Europe. In 2021 they continued rising, ending the first quarter 43.4 per cent higher compared to Q1 2020. Hiring in February (254 vacancies) and March (310 vacancies) represents levels never before seen in the European pharmaceutical industry.

“With increasing demand for faster approval processes, the changing regulatory landscape and growth in emerging fields, it’s little surprise that recruitment for RA specialists is at record levels,” commented Cpl Life Sciences CEO, Yvette Cleland. “Investment in speciality therapies, orphan drugs, personalised medicines and companion diagnostics means hiring for these experts will continue rising – particularly in the UK, which is consistently the busiest recruiter in this space in continental Europe.”

Life sciences companies in the UK published 578 vacancies for RA specialists in 2020, a 6.4 per cent year-on-year rise. In contrast, firms in Germany sought 283 professionals (-6.9 per cent y/y) and Switzerland 196 professionals (-4.4 per cent y/y).

Cleland added: “The UK science sector is going from strength to strength and ambitions are growing. But there’s also an increasing skills shortage in RA with larger companies doing very little in developing new talent. Overall, we need 130,000-plus new highly skilled workers in the sector. Firms urgently need to start investing.”

“Our labour market analytics provides a detailed picture of how the life sciences industry is developing,” noted Vacancysoft CEO, James Chaplin, “and shows already which firms are on course to easily surpass last year’s hiring levels for RA specialists.

“As across most of the sector, professional recruitment is now buoyant. Recruiters will be jostling for candidates and looking for any edge. Following a relatively unpredictable previous year, I’m sure the consistency is something they will welcome.”

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