Labour Needs in the Pharmaceutical Sector

Quebec’s pharmaceutical jobs are expected to continue its growth in the coming years, with the result that some 2,250 openings will need to be filled in the next three years.

The sectoral labour committee for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology products industries, Pharmabio Development, surveyed companies in the sector to learn about their workforce issues.

Over the next three years, the industry will mainly need 450 lab technicians, 300 processing and manufacturing machine operators and 300 researchers. Other professional positions will need to be filled, but with less urgency and importance than for these three professions.

These needs are concentrated among the industry’s largest employers, the manufacturers of pharmaceutical products, which generate 57% of the jobs. Research and development services then follow with nearly one quarter of the jobs, followed by product and supply wholesalers. The manufacturers have experienced the biggest increase in the number of companies in Canada and Quebec between 2014 and 2017.

Recruitment difficulties
More than one half (54%) of the industry’s companies are experiencing difficulties in recruiting. They have to turn to immigration to fill their needs in specialized and experienced resources such as analytical chemists and lab technicians, often coveted by other sectors.

Like most industries and sectors in Quebec, pharmaceutical jobs are also facing the challenges of the ageing workforce. In order to attract young workers, some companies offer the possibilities of remote working, flexible schedules and career management programs to progress within the organization. Finally, the average annual salary in the industry is rising in Quebec (3%), but it is growing less rapidly than in Canada (6%).

Varied training
Positions in the pharmaceutical industry are varied, as is the training leading to them. Lab technicians, animal health technicians or bioecology technicians, for example, need a technical college diploma (DEC). Some positions, such as those in chemical analysis or process management, require a certificate of collegial studies (AEC). A university degree is required for positions in chemistry, biology, medicine and other specializations.

To compensate for certain shortcomings, companies in the industry expect to offer in-company training. In addition to the general updating by profession, these courses will cover new technologies, the use and maintenance of specialized equipment and manufacturing techniques.

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