How to Solve Pharma’s Skilled Workforce Deficit

Advancements in pharmaceutical, biotech and cell & gene therapies have reached an unprecedented level and new technologies like gene editing, AI and quantum computing will only further accelerate the ability to bring new medications to the public.  However, one of the biggest challenges facing the industry, and ultimately limiting therapeutic availability to patients, is the skilled workforce deficit. 

The talent shortage is a constant theme at every industry conference I attend.  One of the predominant questions is, do we need PhD or even bachelor’s degree graduates for many of these roles?  It’s clear the talent pool must be broadened, but this must be done without sacrificing therapeutic quality. 

Pharmaceutical manufacturing is estimated to grow at a 13% CAGR over the next five years.   College enrollment peaked in 2010.  The upcoming demographic cliff estimated to hit in 2025 will only further decrease university enrollment.  It is vital to explore alternative education and training methods to ensure we meet the continued demand for talent. 

Next week I’m heading to Washington D.C. to attend the NIIMBL 2023 National Meeting.  Workforce development is a key pillar for NIIMBL and I’m excited to hear from industry experts about how we can rise to the challenge and meet the demand for skilled personnel.  Some of the key engagements I’ll be checking out: 

  • Workforce/Talent e-Poster presentations highlighting innovative approaches to education, training and workforce development. 
  • AR/VR Demo Room featuring Cytiva, OUAT!, Keck Graduate Institute and Quality Executive Partners featuring Virtuosi.   
  • Skills First Hiring:  Non-Degree Pathways into Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing 
  • NIIMBL Workforce Initiatives Luncheon 

I’ll be sure to let everyone know what’s being done to solve this critical issue.


Jeff Roy, Director of Business Development for QxP and Virtuosi, is immersed in the pharma and biotech industries’ search for scalable solutions to educating and training the manufacturing workforce. His work with Virtuosi, QxP’s Education 4.0 platform for Pharma 4.0, puts him in touch with industry and academic leaders trying to solve this issue so that the world’s supply chain of needed medicines is uninterrupted by workforce development challenges.

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