Are Wet Lab Researchers On The Way Out In California?

New report notes that the life science industry creates jobs in the state for over 360,000 people.

Probably not. But there is an increasing demand for people with data and computing skills, and the life sciences sector in California may be losing the battle with Silicon Valley for those people.

These are among the most prominent findings in a recent report titled ‘Talent Integration – California Workforce Trends in the Life Science Industry’, jointly produced by Biocom Institute and California Life Science.

The report is packed with interesting data, including the following nuggets:

  • Who’s hiring? In the last 12 months, the state’s biggest recruiters into technical positions in life sciences look to be Amgen, Pfizer and Genentech, followed by Thermo Fisher, J&J, Abbott, Gilead and Merck.
  • New technologies are driving the needs of recruiters. CRISPR/gene editing and computing/data skills were cited as strong examples of changing requirements.
  • The life sciences and tech sectors are competing for the same talent pool. This is likely to increase as life sciences hires fewer wet lab researchers and more people in the data space.
  • Life science companies have most difficulty filling roles in (1) regulatory affairs/compliance roles, closely followed by (2) R&D and (3) product/process development.

As life sciences companies increasingly look to recruit people with a data/technology background, the results suggest they will experience increased competition from Silicon Valley for the same talent pool.

That begs the question, do life sciences companies need to become more like Silicon Valley companies to thrive? And if so, how? Certainly, the report indicates that people are being drawn to companies like Google and Facebook more than their life sciences counterparts. This may stifle growth in the life sciences space.

Perhaps big pharma and co should adopt Silicon Valley employee perks like climbing walls, laundry services, free dinners, open bars and home cleaning services. Dropbox, for instance, reportedly spent $25,000 per person on employee perks as recently as 2015.

The battle for data and tech talent has already commenced.