Looming Workforce Shortage Threatens Future Clinical Trial Pipeline

Beth Harper, ACRP Workforce Innovation Officer

Beth Harper, ACRP Workforce Innovation Officer

“Put bluntly, we may not be able to keep up with future clinical trial demand because our workforce isn’t growing fast enough,” writes ACRP Workforce Innovation Officer Beth Harper in a Clinical Leader article this week on “Capacity & Competency of the Clinical Research Workforce – Today & Tomorrow.”

The consequences are serious, Harper notes. “We risk missing out on access to new drugs and therapies designed to mitigate suffering and prolong life…slowing our amazing progress in oncology and other therapeutic areas [and losing] ground in our battle against Alzheimer’s and related diseases.”

Harper cites surveys and available data suggesting that over the last three years there are signs that demand for clinical trial personnel has been increasing, with average compound annual growth in monthly job postings activity of 9.3% across all clinical research positions. “While a nearly 10% growth in demand sounds robust, it is somewhat sobering when we see that the average year-over-year growth in clinical trials activities is 12.2% over the same time period,” she says.

Harper’s article comes on the heels of a recent ACRP special report—“Is the Clinical Trial Workforce Prepared for the Future?”—which shows how the lack of clear career paths and adequate workforce training is contributing to the shortage of skilled personnel needed today and tomorrow. “The number of clinical trial sites isn’t keeping pace with demand [and] clinical trial workforce professionals are stuck in the middle of the vise,” the report notes.

Author: Michael Causey