UK doubles CGT workforce but talent shortage still a threat

The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) UK Skills Demand Report 2023 said the UK CGT industry has doubled its workforce over the past four years from 3,199 roles in 2019 to 6,232 roles in 2023.

Millie Nelson, Editor

December 12, 2023

2 Min Read

While the report said the rate of growth is expected to slow, companies still predicted overall employment to increase by 63% over the next five years to meet demand. The “less-rapid” growth is not a UK-only issue, and the CGT Catapult cited US-based Alliance of Regenerative Medicine (ARM) has stated various companies in the industry have been cutting their workforce “as well as adjusting their outlook for 2023 and beyond.”

In October, Beam Therapeutics said it would let go of around 100 employees to extend the company’s cash runway and focus on developing its sickle cell disease candidates. In September, 2seventy cut 40% of its workforce to help free up $130+ million and focus its efforts on chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy Abecma. And two months later, gene therapy firm Locanabio announced it would close by the end of 2023.

“There is a hangover period that we are going through. However, we expect science will come through as traditionally science does,” Stephen Ward, chief manufacturing officer at CGT Catapult told BioProcess Insider.

“The trajectory is always upwards and despite there being some short-term layoffs and downsizing of facilities, we do expect things to return. There have also been some good high-profile announcements recently in the UK, with Vertex’ [Casgevy] approval and RoslinCT being selected as its contract development manufacturing organization (CMDO).”

Future proof

To avoid a shortage of talent in the future, the report recommended the industry should increase awareness of the careers available in the industry, reduce the time it takes for graduates to be able to work in an industry setting by setting up training programs, and minimize the challenges associated with accessing international talent.

Additionally, Ward said “what we need now is people to have digital skill sets, as well as the need for more specialist data scientists.”

To access this type of talent and talent in general, Ward said “communication is key.”

“We need to communicate outside of the sector, so people are more aware. This means providing more outreach into education establishments and while some businesses are doing it themselves, the CGT Catapult is doing it on a local and national level.”

With the need for more digital skillsets and data scientists, the science industry will inevitably be competing with the banking and tech sector too. However, Ward said there needs to be clear communication “that roles can be cross trained and the roles themselves are pretty well paid.”

This means once people are made aware of the roles available, the jobs are seen as “quite attractive” and there is the potential to “win the hearts and minds of people to attract them into a sector they may not have thought about.”

About the Author(s)

Millie Nelson

Editor, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering global biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing news and host of the Voices of Biotech podcast.

I am currently living and working in London but I grew up in Lincolnshire (UK) and studied in Newcastle (UK).

Got a story? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

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