Clinical trials are an essential part of the research and development (R&D) of new medicines and vaccines. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the value of clinical trials made a significant impact on global communities. During that time of global upheaval, many trials were paused. Entering 2022 we saw some interesting trends continue in terms of vacancy analysis and how several years into Covid-19, how the industry and most pertinently clinical trials have recovered.
Our latest data reveals seven out of ten jobs in clinical research in 2022 sit within Contract Research Organisations (CROs), showing a sustained and strong level of growth across Europe. In 2021, we saw a rapid increase in the number of vacancies for clinical research jobs; however by 2022, although we saw continued growth, the numbers stabilised to a rate of about 9% YOY increase. Biotechnology clinical research has seen the slowest growth of all areas in life sciences at only 4%. Studying emerging trends and roles most impacting talent requirements, clinical project roles saw the highest growth in terms of open vacancies, with a 71% increase compared to 2021.
The pandemic significantly influenced the type of clinical trials that were conducted, as well as how those trials were designed and delivered. We have seen regulatory flexibilities introduced, digital and remote approaches adopted, and innovative design and delivery models implemented. However, we have also seen the negative effect that a focus on COVID-19 has had on research into other conditions.
Efforts in 2022 to restart and recover activity have seen some major increases in clinical trials. The emerging trends at the beginning of 2022 have seen substantial increases in trials within diabetes, with a round 80 clinical trials starting at the beginning of 2022 and a further 300 planned trials going live in 2022 and 2023. Trial activity in hypertension and respiratory tract infections is also on track to have the largest boost in 2022, in cardiovascular and respiratory disease categories, respectively. While the pandemic shifted resources away from non-Covid-19 respiratory infections, we have seen a resurgence in this space in 2022. These areas of growth, alongside the continued increase in oncology trials, have been at the forefront of the increase in hiring trends. Overall, trends show a move toward adopting emerging technologies to discover drugs, adapting existing scientific techniques to find new therapeutic approaches within the RNA field, and decentralising clinical trials.
With a growing trend toward decentralised trials, 2022 has seen an increase of 28% compared to 2021. The progress made in using remote monitoring and diagnostics, home health providers, local labs, digital capture of consent data, and direct-to-patient drug distribution is gaining momentum every month. The Covid-19 pandemic has driven the growth in decentralised trials, eliminating or significantly reducing the need for participants to come into contact with researchers face-to-face. Decentralised trials can help make research studies more accessible to a wider demographic of participants. This can result in improved recruitment and retention rates, greater engagement and diversity among participants, and a reduction in the costs required to run trials, which has shown some exceptional benefits compared to conventional trials.
Early indicators for 2023 show a continued trend in growth across the clinical trial landscape. As always, one of the greatest obstacles to growth in Europe is not a lack of phenomenal science but a shortage of people with the talent to fill the roles.
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Yvette Cleland - CEO | Cpl UK