Biotech sector looks forward to 2,400 new jobs in Wallonia
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    Biotech sector looks forward to 2,400 new jobs in Wallonia

    © Belga

    As Wallonia is still reeling at the loss of over 1,000 jobs at the largest private sector employer in the region, GSK Vaccines, the sector has announced it is forecasting 2,400 new jobs in biotechnology in Wallonia in the next three years.

    The forecast comes from BioWin, Wallonia’s umbrella group for biotech and medical technologies, made up of representatives of the private sector, universities and research centres. From a polling of its members, BioWin concludes that the jobs appearing on the horizon will be more than sufficient to compensate for even the most pessimistic outlook for GSK.

    Earlier this week the Wavre-based company, a subsidiary of the UK-US multinational, was to cut 720 full-time jobs, while the decision not to renew temporary contracts could push the number up to over 1,200. GSK is the region’s largest private sector employer, with some 9,000 employees at its three sites at Wavre, Rixensart and Gembloux. Another 7,000 jobs are indirectly dependent on the company.

    Now BioWin suggests the sector could provide an average of 800 new jobs every year from now until the end of 2022. The poll will be published later, but BioWin director Sylvie Ponchaut told Belga the main lines of the survey are already clear. “The range goes from 5600 to 1,100 jobs a year depending on the methodology used, but the 800 figure is considered a conservative average,” she said.

    Various specialisms will be required as the different parts of the sector develop, and as it grows more mature. While biochemists and industrial pharmacologists will continue to be highly sought-after, she said, “the spectrum will expand to include engineers and technicians, with the growth of companies in the field of medical technologies.”

    What’s more, the digitisation of the sector will lead to demand for bio-statisticians, as well as specialists in data and digital R&D, presenting the possibility that in the years to come, the biopharma sector could even be left facing a shortage of available talent.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times