Science, research and development

Trends in the pharmaceutical sector

Discover the latest in employment trends in the pharmaceutical sector

Graduate recruitment will remain limited in the pharmaceutical sector going into 2015 with 43% of employers indicating their graduate intake will decrease next campaign as employers seek recruits with industry experience.

This is in an industry where, of the employers surveyed, no company took on more than ten graduates during the 2013/14 campaign, according to the Graduate Recruitment and Employability Survey (2013-14), conducted by AHECS.

Nevertheless, the majority of employers will continue to hire graduates with Science and Engineering degrees being the primary disciplines they are recruited from.

All employers surveyed indicated they would hire graduates from these two disciplines, while a smaller amount of graduates have been hired from Food Science, Commerce, IT and Law.

Due to the level of expertise and experience required in the pharmaceutical sector, recruits tend to have postgraduate degree or PhD’s, more so than in any other sector.

Work experience

In terms of specific criteria which employers are looking for, the three most popular were relevant work experience, a relevant degree and overall academic performance.

“I think graduates with relevant work experience/placements and hands on studies (ie in the lab) have an advantage over those who are lectured on theory and don’t use the equipment regularly. It’s important for students to receive practical studies as this helps them to gain work and perform well when they do”, says one leading employer.

In terms of employability skills, employers chose a diverse range of skills with teamwork being the most important. Employers made specific recommendations for graduates to understand that teamwork is about “actively listening and engaging in the team, taking other people’s ideas on-board” and not seeing it as “an opportunity to outshine other members”, the report highlights.

Other skills ranked highly by employers were business and customer awareness, and a positive attitude. Nevertheless, employers say graduates generally need further development in business and customer awareness, and also in self-management.

Another recommendation received from employers was for graduates to be aware of the companies in the sector you are aiming to get into. “When choosing post-graduate studies an emphasis should be placed on the students desired future careers and plans. I receive CVs from students who want to work in the Biopharmaceutical industry but studied areas that were interesting to them at the time but not applicable to where they want to work”, one employer noted.

Employers also said that having a strong academic background gives a strong basis for working in industry, but it’s relevant experience on top of this that will prove invaluable. “Respect and learn from the people you work with, observe how they work and manage their workloads”, which will lead to a strong work ethic, says the report.

Download the AHECS Graduate Recruitment and Employability Survey 2013 here

See also the Expert Group on Future Skills Need 2016 Report on the Future Skills Needs of the Biopharma Industry here: