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Minister welcomes report that forecasts 21,000 additional jobs for Biopharma sector by 2027

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Peter Burke TD, today welcomed a report from the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), which forecasts 21,000 additional jobs will be created by 2027, in order to support Ireland’s important and fast-growing Biopharma sector.

The report, entitled Skills for Biopharma – Researching and forecasting the current and future skills needs of the Biopharma sector in Ireland to 2027 shows the strong growth in employment in the Biopharma sector in Ireland over the past five years, and highlights the specific skills needed to support this strategically important sector for Ireland’s economy.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Minister Burke said:

The Biopharma sector is central to Ireland’s economic success and has been for many years. This report shows that we expect strong growth in the sector requiring a continuing inflow of skilled workers. It is essential that Ireland rises to the challenge of providing the educated and trained workers needed to support this growth.

“The Biopharma sector employs more than 50,000 people directly in Ireland and the report predicts that number to grow by more than 21,000 by 2027. In order to facilitate this, the education and training sector will need to respond to the demand for the highly skilled workers needed by the sector. Upskilling of the existing workforce will also be necessary, as will attraction of the relevant talent from overseas.”

The report finds graduate inflow into the sector is likely to fall short of recruitment needs by 3,000 people annually. This shortfall will have to be made up, inter alia, by ensuring that the education and training system is responsive to sector needs as well as by ongoing training and upskilling within the sector itself.

An Implementation Group has been set up to drive the recommendations in the report.  It is being Chaired by Patricia Quane, formerly of Astellas Pharma, who also Chaired the Steering Group for the project. The Implementation Group had its first meeting on Thursday 25th April and intends to meet three to four times a year for the next two years to coordinate and drive implementation.

Minister Burke continued:

Key to success is the implementation of the report’s recommendations. If we are to see the potential for growth in the sector realised, it will require the necessary skills, as outlined in this report. I would like to offer my support to the Implementation Group that has been set up to drive the report’s recommendations forward over the next two years. Solid, evidence-based research is just the first step. Taking positive and committed action in the necessary areas is what is now needed.”

Tony Donohoe, Chair of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, added:

“This Expert Group report highlights the strong ongoing growth of the Biopharma sector in Ireland but shows that there is likely to be a significant shortfall of skilled individuals in the sector over the next five years. Beyond the overall growth in staff numbers, the sector also faces specific skills challenges arising from changes in manufacturing technologies and the digitalisation of processes. The sector also needs skills to underpin innovation and R&D, as well as to fill QC and regulatory roles.

“Therefore, action is needed if we are to unlock the sector’s potential for growth. Many of the actions recommended by the report involve cooperation and collaboration between industry and the education and training sectors.  The industry also needs to promote itself and identify career pathways and opportunities for new entrants. The education and training sectors must listen to what the industry needs and provide relevant courses in sufficient quantities where they can. There is a substantial opportunity for the Biopharma sector in Ireland if it can source the skills it needs over the next five years.”


Further information

Full report: Skills for Biopharma – Researching and forecasting the current and future skills needs of the Biopharma sector in Ireland to 2027

The main findings of the report are:

  1. Employment has grown strongly in the Biopharma sector in Ireland over the past five years and is expected to continue to grow almost as strongly over the next four, with a forecast of more than 21,000 additional jobs being created by 2027.
  2. Average annual recruitment into the sector is forecast to be more than 5,600 out to 2027.
  3. A shortfall of 3,000 is projected between this demand and likely graduates entering the Biopharma sector, if nothing changes.
  4. A range of actions will be needed to address the projected shortfall. Many of these involve collaboration and cooperation between industry and the education and training sectors.
  5. Specific skills demand has arisen due, among other things, to changes in manufacturing technologies, the digitalisation of processes, the need for ongoing innovation and R&D, and the need to remain compliant with evolving regulatory requirements.
  6. Skills for the digital transformation of the sector are going to be very important, as are leadership and transversal skills.
  7. The sector needs to promote careers more effectively as well as develop new pathways into careers.
  8. Collaboration between industry and the education and training sector will be key to ensuring a good match between the demand for skilled workers and supply.
  9. The education and training sector must have the capacity to respond to skills needs articulated by industry and investment may be needed.
  10. Strengthening STEM education in schools is essential to underpin progress and future success.

The report makes ten recommendations under the following headings:

  1. Strengthening STEM Education in Schools
  2. Increasing the Capacity for Education and Training at Tertiary level
  3. Increasing Collaboration between Industry and Academia
  4. Promoting Careers in Biopharma
  5. Promoting New Pathways into the Sector
  6. Developing Leadership and Transversal Skills
  7. Growing Digital Skills
  8. Fostering an Environment of Diversity and Collaboration
  9. Accelerate the Development of Skills for ATMPs
  10. Developing a Skills Framework and Further Skills Mapping

About the EGFSN

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) advises the Irish Government on the current and future skills needs of the economy and on other labour market issues that impact on Ireland’s enterprise and employment growth. It has a central role in ensuring that labour market needs for skilled workers are anticipated and met.

The Enterprise Strategy, Competitiveness and Evaluations Division within the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment provides the EGFSN with research and analysis support.

Contact Expert Group on Future Skills Needs at