Careers advice and planning

Trends in the pharmaceutical sector (includes video)

22 Jun 2023, 13:18

Discover the latest in employment trends in the pharmaceutical sector

Scientists in lab coats examining a blue liquid in a flask with focus and precision, representing pharmaceutical research.

The Irish pharmaceutical sector is highly advanced incorporating the latest technology, state of the art equipment and strict quality control procedures. Recent years have also seen the rise international companies setting up research centres throughout Ireland, as well as engaging in joint research projects with Irish universities. Ireland’s pharmaceutical industry offers a wide range of products and services, from research and development for new medicines to the manufacturing and marketing of new medicines for humans and animals.

The Irish pharmaceutical sector

  • Ireland is the 7th largest exporter of medicinal and pharmaceutical products in the world (2014)
  • Ireland is now the largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals in the EU accounting for over 50% of all exports from the country. In 2014 the sector exported products to the value of €64 billion.
  • The replacement value of the sector is estimated to be €40 billion.
  • Approximately 120 overseas companies have plants in Ireland
  • Ireland has 9 of the top 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world with operations throughout the country.
  • The sector contributes more than €1 billion in corporation tax to the Irish Exchequer annually.
  • The industry has significantly diversified in recent years with 10 new facilities dedicated to the manufacturing of therapeutic proteins or vaccines.
  • The international research-based pharmaceutical industry has invested over €7 billion in the last ten years in Ireland.
  • The sector was worth 50.8 billion in 2010, a 7.3% increase from 47.3 billion in 2009.

Source: McGee Pharma

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.

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

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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