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Industry certification replacing “two years’ experience minimum” CRA mantra as tool to manage risk and quality in clinical trials

Latest market forecasts for the CRO industry predicts compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 7.4% to 8.2% between 2018 and 2023, which equates to 50%-60% growth in the next five years.

At a recent event at The Savoy in London, featuring some of the largest CROs and pharmaceutical companies across the globe, IN AWE representatives shared some of the research they have conducted to truly understand how much of a challenge will be faced in bridging the ever-widening talent gap. The research, conducted in August 2018, has found an estimated current workforce of CRAs for the European and North America Market to be around 120,000 strong. The analysis also found that approximately 10% of CRAs leave the workforce by career change, progression to other roles or dropping out of the industry completely, whilst only a small number of new CRAs join the workforce. There is a talent shortage that is widening and Dietmar Eglhofer from IN AWE, gave an insight in to why this was and to discuss solutions with participants at the event.

“The key reason is the low level of entry programs provided, based on the approach to provide CRAs with two years or more experience. Instead of growing the available CRA workforce, it is shrinking. Put on top the increased need for CRAs to cover the market growth, it is easy to see the perfect storm ahead. Our models would estimate a shortage of close to 20,000 CRAs in 2019 already, growing fast to 2023 if nothing changes. Industry experts who have been with us during our latest event, supported our projections, despite further technology and process improvements in managing clinical trials.”

The BIG question now is how to grow the CRA workforce sustainably and effectively.

The IN AWE analysis concludes that the current market paradigm of “CRAs with two years and more experience” as a tool to manage risk on trials will be replaced by an industry acknowledged accreditation, following similar solutions implemented in other industries, like aviation. There will simply not be enough CRAs with two years’ experience, so the industry needs a new approach to manage risk. This also has been acknowledged by the industry.

Kerry Bambrick-Sattar of IN AWE shared data and insights to show the representatives at the event that there “was no direct correlation between years’ experience and the level of competence in the role when it came to protocol knowledge and compliance to procedures”.

IN AWE released a white paper earlier in 2018 which looked to address what it calls the ‘paradigm shift’ in the CRA marketplace. During 2018 IN AWE launched the only globally independent top-industry accredited CRA ACADEMY, which supports CROs and Pharma on their CRA growth needs. “We provide the next generation of CRAs for our clients, at the top-quality level of the industry. Our both offerings as either permanent placements or contractors provide reliability on competence of CRAs, a sustained and growing pool of talent and a non-risk in hiring for our clients.” Eglhofer describes the services. “In particular our latest offering of contracting IN AWE CRAs at a two year fixed day rate, whilst competently trained and fully accredited by IAOCR, resonated well with CROs who in particular look to ramp up quickly and cost effective.”

For further press information please contact: Chris Howard via email at  

Data conducted includes an analysis of SEC Recruitment internal placements, as well as LinkedIn data analysis conducted on 29th August 2018

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Last Updated: 26-Sep-2018