Huh? After Laying Off 150,000, Big Pharma Says Finding Talent Has Become Difficult

File this under ‘sad irony.’ Now that the pharmaceutical industry has tossed thousands of people overboard during the last decade – an estimated 150,000 or so just since 2009 – a slight majority of drugmakers complain that it has become increasingly difficult to find the right talent and most worry they will not have access to the people they need to hire, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Specifically, 51 percent of life science execs – which is the highest of 19 sectors examined – say that hiring is getting tough and only 28 percent are confident about finding the right candidates. This comes as roughly 60 percent of pharma execs plan to invest more heavily over the next three years to create a more skilled workforce and 72 percent intend to boost their R&D capacity over the next 12 months, PwC reports.

As the many laid off and displaced read this, they are likely to mutter the proverbial ‘I told you so.’ The mergers and acquisitions in recent years – Pfizer (PFE) bought Wyeth and Merck (MRK) purchased Schering-Plough are only the biggest examples – have been characterized by massive layoffs. And the patent cliff has also forced huge cutbacks. But along the way, perhaps these companies likely lost some talent that should have been kept.

PFE Expenses TTM Chart

PFE Expenses TTM data by YCharts

Of course, the workplace is not stagnant and the demand for certain skills is always evolving. Seen this way, the data suggest that pharma execs may want the sort of talent that is not on the sidelines or simply clamoring for a different opportunity. For instance, 34 percent say that developing and managing outside partnerships is the most important skill being sought among scientists.

To read the remainder of this article, go to Pharmalot.

Ed Silverman, a contributing editor of YCharts, is the founder and editor of Pharmalot. He previously reported on the pharmaceutical industry and other business topics for the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, New York Newsday and Investor’s Business Daily. He can be reached at



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