Offshoring trend threatens Western employment

Continual price pressures within the pharmaceutical industry are driving more Western firms to turn to offshore employment.

The practice is expected to increase 16 per cent annually to include 21,000 employees by 2008 – a doubling of the current figures, according to a report by research firm McKinsey & Company.
“Eighty per cent of the world's pharmaceutical industry employees are currently working in Western countries – 60 per cent of them for the top 20 firms,” said Dr Ajay Bakshi at the recent Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) conference in Brussels.

“The future will see a lot of opportunities for the industry to save money by basing some of their employees in low-cost offshore locations, although clearly this will have an impact on employees in the Western labour market.”

The sectors that are at most of risk at being deployed offshore are IT services, research and development (R&D), commercial analytics, and general and administrative back-office functions, said the report, titled: “The Emerging Global Labor Market: Demand for Offshore Talent in Pharmaceutical Services.”

The specific occupations under threat are associated with functions that are more amenable to global resourcing, including generalists, life science researchers, IT engineers, and support staff.

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