Work in the pharmaceutical industry: inclusion, professional growth and employment development

01 Agosto 22

The pharma sector is a strategic high-innovation sector, which in recent years has shown that it can create development and provide skilled labour. Today, to work in the pharmaceutical industry, new knowledge and skills are needed that can support the digital transition and meet 4.0 standards. This transformation is already bringing significant benefits in terms of production, exports, sustainability, retraining and employment growth, with a significant increase in the presence of young people and women.

Gender equality and corporate welfare

The pharmaceutical industry in Italy confirms its leadership in terms of female employment. According to Farmindustria’s latest report, women represent 43% of the workforce, and in the R&D sector the percentage rises to 52%. In the under-35 bracket, 55% hold senior roles, either as executives or managers. A surprising result, if we consider that in the manufacturing industry the figure stands at 21%.

Working in the pharmaceutical industry, today, means being able to access quality, women-friendly welfare, aimed at promoting social inclusion, professional growth, and the possibility of reconciling private life and work. About 70% of companies, in fact, adopt welfare policies geared to the well-being of employees and their families:

  • education and training paths;
  • social security and supplementary healthcare tools;
  • parenting support measures (hourly flexibility, work from home, extension of parental leave, company kindergarten, etc.);
  • family support tools (transport, canteen, shopping trolley, assistance for non-self-sufficient family members, etc.).

Specialised skills and 4.0 training

The need to train a new generation of professionals, with an equal gender distribution and specific technical-scientific skills, is an essential challenge for our country. According to ISTAT data, in 2020 only 24.9% of graduates between 25 and 34 held a degree in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines, with a significant gap between men and women. In this less than rosy picture, the pharmaceutical industry represents a point of excellence, ranking first in terms of open innovation, training, and innovation agreements with universities and public research centres.

According to Farmindustria data, the percentage of young people employed in the sector has increased by 13% in the last five years. Eighty per cent of workers under 35 already have a permanent contract, and the female component in this age group is the highest in Italy (46%, compared to 27% in the manufacturing industry).

Determining the progressive generational change is, to a large extent, the digital transformation process underway in production processes, which requires highly specialised skills, constant updating and extreme adaptability to change. «Manufacturing in the pharmaceutical industry today requires complex knowledge», reminded Farmindustria president Massimo Scaccabarozzi in a recent interview with Fortune. «Skills in ICT are needed: from Big data analysis, to the use of artificial intelligence». Since 2017, Farmindustria has launched a training and school-to-work alternation plan, which includes hundreds of hours of theoretical lessons, project work and company internships. Gaining access to the so-called “augmented skills”, which are fundamental for working in the pharmaceutical industry 4.0, will allow students to assess a career opportunity in pharma and companies to recruit new profiles, necessary to adapt to the digital transformation process and be more competitive internationally.