Press Release

Biocom California Institute and California Life Sciences Release 2021 Life Sciences Workforce Trends Report for California

California’s life sciences industry continues to be a consistent engine of economic growth and high-quality job creation for the state

SAN DIEGO, LOS ANGELES and SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA – October 27, 2021 – Biocom California Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that supports life science innovation by strengthening the workforce and leaders of tomorrow, and California Life Sciences, a membership organization, advocating for the sector and its diverse innovation pipeline, announced their joint report, “2021 Life Sciences Workforce Trends.

The report includes the most pressing current and projected talent needs of California’s life sciences industry, which continues to be a leading driver of employment across the state. The three foundational datasets described, include the number of job postings from January 2017 to December 2020, hiring survey responses and insights from executive interviews. This year’s report also includes key findings surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic response and how diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) impacted talent and hiring dynamics.

“While there is no question that the life sciences industry is resilient and accustomed to rapidly changing workforce trends that stem from significant growth, discovery, and churn, the disruptions of the past 19 months have redefined the way these companies operate”, said Lori Lindburg, Senior Vice President, Innovation & Inclusion at California Life Sciences, and President & CEO of the Institute. “Industry executives are deftly and simultaneously navigating a complex set of business imperatives – remote work and return-to-work contingencies, employee recruitment, and strategic diversity and inclusion objectives – to remain at the forefront of California innovation and growth.”

California’s life sciences industry continues to be a leading employer and driver of economic growth for the state, creating 385,203 unique job opportunities from January 2017 through December 2020. Three industry subsectors accounted for 91% of the total job postings, which included drug and pharmaceutical (36%), medical devices and equipment (29%), and research testing and medical laboratories (26%). During this time, the overall number of life science job postings across the state increased 20%, despite disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, which contributed to a 16.5% decrease in the number of jobs from 2019 to 2020 across all industries.

Details from the executive interviews and hiring survey show there remains a strong demand and competition for talent across the multiple functional areas and job types within the state’s life sciences sector. Their responses indicated challenges in finding skilled individuals to fill technical and production-related roles, as supported by the most frequently promoted job postings. Consistent with previous reports, this year’s hiring survey also showed that some of the most difficult functions for companies to find talent for are quality and regulatory affairs.

Key findings from the 2021 California Workforce Trends report that are impacting California’s demand for talent are:

  • California’s life sciences industry remains resilient amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating stability and growth over the last three years.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic directly changed how companies view work and the workplace, leading to more adoption of remote work and other workforce management innovations.
  • Strong soft skills are increasingly viewed as predictors of career success. Adaptability, resilience and communication are the top desired skills as employers navigate uncharted economic and industry transitions.
  • New and amplified initiatives are focused on supporting DE&I across the life sciences industry with a broad recognition that more must be done to create lasting change.
  • There is new energy behind academic collaborations to address shifting demands for talent.

“As the 2021 Life Sciences Workforce Trends report for California highlights, there is a growing demand for talent that can meet the many needs of the life sciences industry – notably talent that is both diverse and armed with the necessary skillsets to deliver life-changing medicines and improve human health across the globe,” said Karmin Noar, Executive Director of Biocom Institute. “The report also underscores the need to standardize education and the skills required in the life sciences industry through certifications. Biocom California Institute is leading this important initiative by working with California’s public and private universities, community colleges, high school CTE programs and workforce development boards to develop a standard set of skills and concepts that also promote diversity and equity in the workforce through independent assessments that are aligned and vetted by the industry. Finally, it is clear that industry, academia, government and the life science community as a whole must come together to meet these emerging workforce needs and ensure California remains a global leader in this field.”

An executive summary and full copy of the report can be found at

About Biocom California Institute
Biocom California Institute is a 501(c)(3) that accelerates the growth of California’s life science ecosystem through innovative workforce development and life science education programs and strategies. We identify solutions to address employers’ workforce needs, conduct research and support the current and emerging life sciences workforce through professional development and outreach. With a goal to build a highly skilled and diverse talent pipeline and promote lifelong learning, Biocom California Institute supports life science innovation and success state-wide and in our local communities. Biocom California Institute is an affiliate of Biocom California, the largest and most experienced advocate for California’s life science sector. For more information on Biocom California Institute, please visit our website at and connect with us on Twitter (@BiocomInstitute).

About California Life Sciences (CLS)
California Life Sciences (CLS) is the state’s most influential and impactful life sciences membership organization, advocating for the sector and its diverse innovation pipeline. For more than 30 years, CLS has served the community by supporting companies of all sizes, from early-stage innovators and startups to established industry leaders in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical technology. As integral components of a healthy and collaborative ecosystem, CLS also works closely with universities, academic and research institutions, the investment community, and other critical partners that promote this vibrant sector. With offices in South San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, CLS works to shape public policy, improve access to breakthrough technologies, educate lawmakers, and advance equity within our ecosystem by championing innovative solutions for some of the most pressing challenges of our times. In doing so, CLS fulfills its mission to protect and nurture California’s life sciences industry, empowering discoveries that lead to healthier lives around the world.
Visit CLS at, and follow us on Twitter @CALifeSciences, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Media Contacts:

Biocom California Institute
Carolyn Hawley
Canale Communications
[email protected]
(619) 849-5382

California Life Sciences
Alex Burch
California Life Sciences
[email protected]
(320) 237-7034