Analysis: Workforce Growth May Not be Keeping Pace with Clinical Trials Workload Needs

Growth of the clinical research workforce may not be keeping pace with that of clinical trial demand, according to a new statistical analysis of workforce trends and issues from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) and TEConomy Partners, LLC.

“Over the last three years, there are signs that demand has been increasing with average compound annual growth in monthly job posting activity of 9.3% across all clinical research positions,” the analysis concludes. “This 9.3% is substantial and is behind the average year-over-year growth in clinical trial activities of 12.2% over the 2016-2019 period, suggesting that the clinical research workforce may not be keeping pace with current clinical trials workload needs.”

Published today, An Assessment of the Adequacy of the Clinical Research Workforce reveals a profession driven by high-quality jobs with significant demand from a growing clinical research industry and opportunities for entry-level positions to develop careers in health innovation.

But the analysis also sheds significant light on industry’s haphazard approach to workforce planning, development, and assessment – while also highlighting the need for industry-wide occupational definitions, standards, and certifications to attract and retain more people in clinical research careers.

“The clinical research workforce is the engine of an increasingly complex and technical industry, but our analysis highlights the need to further advance the professional support for this workforce in order to build diversity and the capacity to meet rising demand,” says Jim Kremidas, ACRP Executive Director.

Other analysis highlights include:

  • The clinical research profession shows high variance in educational requirements. Over one-third of job positions in postings have no minimum experience requirement and 50$ require 3 years or less.
  • The lack of industry-wide standards beyond minimum education and experience, both of which are ill-defined, means that career paths in clinical research are not visible or accessible to the broader workforce.
  • Estimation of the actual employment footprint of clinical research professionals is difficult because there is not a clear definition of clinical research occupational segments that translates well into the existing occupational categories that drive employment projections.

“Workforce planning, development, and assessment is imperative to the existence, quality, and efficiency of clinical research – yet it has largely been overlooked as industry focuses instead on the important initiatives to improve quality and efficiency through process and technology innovation,” Kremidas adds. “Industry’s current approach is not sustainable and is not resulting in improved clinical trial outcomes. It must be a priority today to ensure the diversity and stability of the clinical research enterprise in the future and the continued development of new drugs, devices, and therapies.”

The analysis provides data and insights related to:

  • Demand for clinical research professionals, including a breakdown by geography.
  • Salary among the leading positions in clinical research.
  • Education and experience requirements in the industry.

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