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Why You Should Consider a Move to the Pharmaceutical Sector

22nd November 2016

When Ireland joined the European Union in 1973, the pharmaceutical sector employed less than 2,000 people and brought in under €100 million annually. Since then, Ireland’s pharmaceutical industry has grown exponentially to become a goliath on the global stage.



Since 2012, the unemployment rate has dropped from a near record-high of 15% to below 8% at present. But during that time, the pharmaceutical sector saw continuous investment and 30% year-on-year growth in employment. So what exactly makess the Irish pharmaceutical sector such a lucrative industry?

Exceeding Expectations

It’s no secret that Ireland is a hub for both the pharmaceutical and medical device companies: we are home 9 out of 10 of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, while over 120 others also have bases here. Cork in particular has made a name for itself as “the Pharma capital of Western Europe”. As well as being home to 15 of the top 20 international pharma corporations, Cork is also the location of Ireland’s first dedicated Pharma Park.

It should come as no surprise so that we are the eighth largest producer and fifth largest exporter of pharmaceutical goods worldwide. Exports of medical and pharmaceutical products now make up over 50% of total Irish exports, bringing in over €59.9 billion in 2015. 

Steady Growth

Another major appeal of the pharma industry is the stability it offers compared to other sectors. The value of the Irish retail sector, for example, fell almost 25% in 2008 alone, and remains at about 83% of levels at the beginning of 2008. The pharma sector on the other hand now directly employs 24,500 people in Ireland, compared to 17,500 in 2008. Earlier this year, the IDA estimated that a further €3 billion will be invested this year, creating over 2,000 jobs in the process.

It is worth noting that pharmaceutical and medical device industries are a new introduction to the Irish economy as many have been based here since the 1960s and continue to see significant investments. With Ireland having experienced two major recessions in the space of three decades, this sort of stability makes the pharma industry a very appealing choice.

Many Happy Returns

Along with stability the pharma industry can also be lucrative; the Central statistics office reports that people working within this industry are earning 30% more than Ireland’s national average. Then of course there is the opportunity to make a difference to society; advancements in the pharmaceutical sector helped increase the number of day-case patients from 390,000 to over one million since 2002. And finally are the opportunities to develop and grow your career Many of the large multinational pharmaceutical thrive on developing their existing and new employees. You simply have to look at how Pfizer has committed to providing effective training to employees and managers alike, or GSK running graduate programmes, offering students invaluable, hands-on industry experience.

The Irish economy saw the fastest rate of growth in Europe in 2015 and, for the first time in 7 years, Ireland now has over two million in employment. But unlike so many other sectors, the pharma sector persevered throughout some of the toughest years this market has seen in a long time. It is clear to see that many people have benefited from the significant presence of this industry, and that we can expect this to continue into the future. 

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About the Author

Aishlyn Johnston Kerr

Principal Team Lead

Cpl Science & Engineering

I specialise in Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology and Medical Device Recruitment in Munster. I am committed to providing candidates and clients a diligent and dedicated service.

Our team have a track record in delivering results in a large range of projects from the recruitment of technical graduates in high volume right through to director level executive search recruitment. 

If you would like to be kept up to date with opportunities or would simply like to discuss a potential career move in confidence then please feel free to drop me a mail at aishlyn.kerr@cpl.ie or call me on 021 4944870

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