Is Job Security Throwing You Off Balance?

Results from Pharmaceutical Technology's Annual Employment Survey
Dec 02, 2008
Volume 32, Issue 12

A strained economy and a flurry of job cuts have taken a toll on the pharmaceutical workforce. Salaries are down slightly this year, and employees feel they must do more with fewer resources, all while facing the looming possibility of additional corporate restructuring.

Table I: Results overview: profile of a typical industry employee.
Nearly 1200 pharmaceutical-industry employees responded to Pharmaceutical Technology's annual employment survey, providing insights into what they deem to be the issues directly affecting them now. Fears about job insecurity, the number of employees now self-employed, and the importance of computer-based systems skills in new employees are evident. Table I lists some overall results, and details are provided in this article.


Figure 1: Percentage of male and female respondents.
Gender and age. Of the total number of responses, 70% came from men (see Figure 1). The average respondent age was 44 years.

Work location. Approximately 45% of the survey responses were received from industry workers in the United States, including Puerto Rico. Of these, approximately 14% worked in New Jersey, 11% each in Pennsylvania and California, 7% in Massachusetts, 5% each in New York and North Carolina, and 4% in Illinois. All other states each accounted for 3% or less of the total US responses. For the first time, a majority of the total responses were received from those working outside the US. Nearly 10% came from those in the United Kingdom, and 28% of respondents are working in Western Europe (not including the UK). Workers in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia (mostly India) represented 5% each of total respondents.

Figure 2: Highest level of education.
Education and professional work experience. Sixty-three percent of employees have a degree higher than a bachelor's degree (see Figure 2). The most common fields of study were pharmaceutics or pharmacy (22%) and analytical chemistry (14%). Nine percent of respondents earned degrees in engineering, and 9% said they had studied in a field unrelated to pharmaceutical science or industry.


Type of employer. As in previous Pharmaceutical Technology employment surveys, most respondents (83%) indicated that they worked in private industry. Although 23% worked in companies with more than 25,000 employees, this year's survey saw a strong representation from smaller firms: 43% of respondents' companies had 1000 employees or fewer. The percentage of respondents from academia or government was less than 6% each. Therefore, the information provided in this article, including salary and attitudes toward current employment, best represents those working in the private sector.

Table II: Top five job functions.
Job description. As in past surveys, the most common field of expertise was in quality assurance and quality control (18%). Expertise in pharmaceutical development (12%), pharmaceutical analytical development (8%), and production research and development (6%) again are included in the top job functions (see Table II). However, "Consultant" (7%) makes the list for the first time, indicating the growing number of pharmaceutical employees who are leaving (voluntarily and otherwise) the corporate arena for self employment.

On average, participants reported they were contracted to work 32 hours per week but actually worked 40 hours per week. About 83% said they did not receive financial reimbursement for extra hours worked. Most employees had worked for their current employer for 11 years; for employees working in the US, this average was eight years.

For the third year in a row, more than 50% of respondents reported that they had been through a company downsizing, restructuring, merger, or acquisition in the past two years. Of this amount, 47% of respondents indicated these activities changed their job responsibilities.

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