The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has just launched Bridging the skills gap in the biopharmaceutical industry; maintaining the UK’s leading position in life sciences, which is an update of its 2008 report on the skills sought by employers in the UK’s pharmaceutical industry.

One piece of good news from the report is that demand for people with a PhD has increased within the industry since 2008.

In particular, the report highlights a number of scientific/technical fields in which firms are having difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified people. Most of these involve the application of mathematical and computing skills (e.g. bioinformatics, health economics, health informatics, statistics). So, if you have expertise in one of these areas, now is a good time to look out for opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector

However, the report states that

~90% of respondents had found it difficult to recruit people with adequate communication and team-working skills.

In 2008 only about 70% of respondents had reported difficulties in relation to these skills. For researchers this underlines once again the importance of being able to identify the key transferable skills gained from carrying out research and being able to provide evidence of these in applications and at interview. Although this report focuses on the pharmaceutical industry, the same goes when applying to employers in any other industry.

If you haven’t yet started to think systematically about these things, two useful starting points could be VITAE’s publication The career-wise researcher and AgCAS’s University researchers and the job market. Both publications explain in depth what employers mean when they talk about particular skills and show how you can draw effectively on your experience as a researcher to provide evidence for these.

The full ABI report can be downloaded here.