The constant refrain of European politicians is the urgent need to create jobs—no surprise in a continent with high and rising
unemployment. Across the European Union, 25 million people were jobless this autumn, and in Spain and Greece there is now
a quarter of the working population without jobs.
Inevitably, the search is on for sectors that offer the best hopes of boosting employment—and healthcare is increasingly seen
as one of the most promising sectors to examine. The pharmaceutical industry in Europe already sets a fine example. According
to figures from its principal European federation, EFPIA, its members employed 660,000 people directly in 2011.
Germany is the largest employer, generating more than 100,000 direct pharma sector jobs, and is closely followed by France,
with 97,000. The United Kingdom and Italy come next, each with more than 66,000. And Spain, Switzerland, Poland, and Belgium
each provide more than 30,000 jobs. Ireland, Hungary, Romania, and Denmark each generate more than 20,000 as well.
Not only does the sector create direct jobs, but it generated three to four times more employment indirectly—upstream and
downstream, says EFPIA. This is attributed largely to its research function, and, EFPIA points out, many of these indirect
jobs are of high value, in areas such as clinical science or in academia. The presence of a highly-skilled workforce was one
of the key factors in the industry investing €27.5 billion in R&D in Europe last year, it says.
The industry story gets better and better, claims EFPIA. Direct employment has risen to its current level from just over 500,000
in 1990—something like a 35% increase in a decade. And at the same time, the number of direct employees in research has risen
too—from 76,000 to 116,000, an even steeper rate of increase.