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Home > Blogs > Future Jobs & Significance of Upskilling in the Pharma Industry
Like all other industries, technological innovations and rapid digitalisation drive the pharma industry and also redefine jobs roles. Following strict regulatory compliance is mandatory for the entire pharma workforce.
The core jobs in the pharma industry can be classified into three broad domains i.e., manufacturing, laboratory and sales. Regular organisational functions like HR, IT and marketing are also relevant in pharma. Future pharma jobs, however, will mainly revolve around the core domains.
Quality Control, Quality Assurance & R&D: The lockdown restrictions made lab work difficult but soon the staff was trained on new working protocol and various tools to preserve health safety and productivity. The pandemic has further intensified the criticality of complying with regulations around health, safety and sanitisation. The regulations need to be followed rigorously throughout the process – from R&D to delivery. Complying with these guidelines and regulations are compulsory for all the internal and external employees in the pharma companies.
Manufacturing: As an early adopter of technology, the pharma industry has started incorporating emerging technologies to lead the digital transformation push. Elements of artificial intelligence, data science, cloud computing, IoT and robotic process automation are being leveraged at different levels of the organisation, with manufacturing being at its core. The adoption of these technologies increased manifold when the pandemic disrupted the industry and helped the organisations to enhance the efficiency of processes in manufacturing operations and business.
As it reduces effort, costs and errors as well as helps maintain physical distance in the process, automation is seen as more effective in the longer term. Moreover, managing the globally distributed workforce and easing the functions is possible with the automation.
Sales: The first directly impacted role in organisations upon COVID-19 outbreak was sales, the face-to-face meeting became impossible as the businesses were forced to shut down as part of lockdown and introduced work from home for business continuity. Telemedicine, video conferencing, WhatsApp, emails, videos, digital content, and similar tools helped the salesforce to carry on their operations despite the travel and meeting restrictions. Since the entire culture has turned remote mode, the sales folks are also adjusted to the new style of working and organisations resumed onboarding new people.
Technological improvements, globalisation and behavioural change of pharma employers and customers streamline a smooth and effective transition to the normal. In fact, some pharma companies have reported higher daily call productivity now per MR, with the shift from doctor-visits to video calls with doctors. When productivity rises, costs have come down due to no travel, and this trend is expected to persist and grow in the new normal. Both freshers and existing salespersons can choose a sales job in pharma companies.
Career options in pharma
The pharmaceutical industry has diverse roles to offer to trained professionals in key areas of clinical research trials, regulatory affairs, drug development and safety, business development and medical affairs. However, listed some of the career options below:
1. Laboratory analyst
2. Manufacturing and quality manager
3. Project manager
4. R&D manager
5. Sales representative
6. Cybersecurity expert
Apart from these, a new set of managerial and technical roles such as data scientist and data analysts, programmers, developers, product managers, etc offer lucrative opportunities.
Preparing pharma workforce for the future
The pharma companies witness an acute talent crunch to take up varied openings across different departments. This compels both employers and employees to focus on upskilling or reskilling in order to deploy for the newly emerged roles and move to sustainable growth.
Skill development is pivotal in this VUCA world, where every job gets quickly transformed or becomes redundant. The pandemic has highlighted the significance of investing in skilling the existing workforce in the pharma industry. New skillsets are emerging – both hard skills and soft skills. They need to ensure their employees have the agility, problem solving, collaboration and innovation skills to continue to remain relevant in the changed scenario. Skills in cutting edge technologies further reinforce and enhance their ability to deal with the new normal.
The following areas urgently needed upskilling:
Upskilling for drug discovery: Skills required to ensure a shortened time to market for new drugs by training the R&D teams on various elements in the drug discovery value chain.
Upskilling for drug manufacturing: Training the manufacturing employees on end-to-end manufacturing processes for formulations to create a multi-skilled shopfloor workforce that can be deployed in any one or more areas of manufacturing.
Upskilling on drug Regulations and regulatory policy/environment: With more than 50% of India’s pharma manufacturing catering to exports, with the US being the largest market, it has become critical to train the workforce on USFDA protocols/processes and documentation requirements.
Upskilling on technology applications: Training on IR 4.0, on areas like IoT, Automation, data-analytics & cloud-computing, digital marketing etc.
Upskilling on innovation, creativity and data-insights for radical research: Need for skilling scientists in R&D on skills to discover new molecules, new formulations, discover new therapy to diagnose and treat the root causes rather than symptoms of various ailments.
Thanks to increased public attention to immunity, health and safety, the Indian pharma industry posts a growth rate of 4-6% in Financial Year 21 despite COVID-19. ICRA research analysis forecasted 8-11% CAGR in FY 2020-23 period, thanks to domestic market growth.
The development and trials of vaccines for COVID-19 are being closely watched by nearly everyone as almost all people have been affected by the pandemic across the globe. Hence, the industry must increase investment in learning and development (L&D) and upskilling. It is the responsibility of all the stakeholders in the industry.
Manipal ProLearn’s School of Pharma is a one-of-its-kind institution in India offering comprehensive training to the pharma workforce on both traditional and emerging areas in the industry. The programs help the pharma companies to build a future-ready and agile workforce in the new normal.