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Future Skills


An AI-based trend analysis on the future skills of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry

An analysis of the skills requirements of the future

Future Skills Report Chemistry.

The digitization of the working world and other transformation processes are reducing the half-life of knowledge and skills to an unprecedented extent. As occupational activities change, so do the qualification requirements for employees. This report – based on big data analysis – provides key stakeholders in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry with a preview of potential changes in the skills landscape.

Chemical trends

Analysis of the major drivers and its impact on shaping the chemical and pharmaceutical industry of the future

Global benchmark

Benchmark of the German chemical and pharmaceutical industry against USA, China and Europe

Jobs & skills

Analysis of the most important changes in the jobs and skills architecture of the global chemical and pharmaceutical industry

The Future Skills Report - part of the qualification offensive chemistry.

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“We want jobs in the chemical-pharmaceutical industry to remain a benchmark. This applies not only to working conditions and pay, but also with regard to know-how and innovation leadership. Employees deserve the best education and training.

The Future Skills Report provides us with important impetus on where to start now in order to ensure this in the future.“

Michael Vassiliadis

Chairman of IG BCE

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“It is crucial for companies and employees
to focus on future skills at an early stage and strategically. Our sector, our companies, every single employee must ask themselves which
skills we will need in two, five or ten years in
order to stay successful.

The Future Skills Report provides answers
to these questions and helps us to approach workforce planning in an even more targeted way.”

Dr. Kai Beckmann

President of BAVC

The first Future Skills Report Chemistry - key points

Key points

Which competencies are gaining more importance for the chemical-pharmaceutical industry? What do employees in this domain need to do to create innovative products, processes, and business models? After all, what are the “future skills”? 

Decision-makers, HR managers, and work councils have an equally strong stake in these and questions. In a resiliently competitive environment spiked with a high degree of uncertainty, guidance is essential. This is where the first “Future Skills Report Chemistry” comes in: Based on the intelligent algorithms and globally “crawled” large volumes of data (big data), it: 

– identifies trends that are particularly relevant for the development of the industry; 

– evaluates opportunities and risks for Germany as a chemical location in international comparison; 

– formulates trend statements on skills and job profiles (which are in greater and fewer demand), broken down by functional areas; 

– takes a closer look at selected occupational profiles and shows how they are likely to develop.

Together with experts from the companies (managers and work councils), we defined the parameters for this AI-based first work: regional focus, the number of trends examined, chemical-relevant job profiles. Structure and content are not set in stone but are continually being adapted. After all, what’s relevant and what’s not – is not constant once and for all. In this respect, the Future Skills Report can be seen as an iterative project that should preferably be published and updated online: 

The recent past has shown that training regulations that are open to technology offer a great deal of design scope to meet new competence requirements. The decisive factor is not so much the date of the regulation, but how it’s put into practice. For example, elective and additional qualifications make it possible to expand digital skills flexibly and in line with requirements during training (see elective qualification “Digitalization and networked production” in the occupation of chemical technician). In Germany, social partners ensure that vocational training always focuses on practical needs. At both company and sector level, they play a key role in identifying the need to adapt training and continuing education regulations. More information on digital skills in training for laboratory, metalworking, electrical and IT occupations, as well as chemical technician, can be found at Elementare Vielfalt (ElVi), the training campaign of the chemical employers’ associations: 

It is intended to provide the company actors with impulses for assessing the individual company challenges. It is clear that not all trends can be expected in every company. The report does not affect collective bargaining issues such as grouping. 

 …which social partners BAVC and IG BCE agreed on November 22, 2019, as part of their latest collective bargaining agreement. While the report represents a kind of skills compass (“Where is the journey heading in terms of skills?”), a second element of the offensive focuses on the better mapping of existing qualifications in the company: The Excel tool “PYTHIA” (, which has proven itself in practice, is currently being adapted to the specific needs of our industry. The focus here is mainly on small and medium-sized enterprises. These two strategic analytical tools are supplemented by the “human factor” of the Chemical Sector Qualification Initiative. Together with the German Federal Employment Agency and private service providers, we will develop an advisory service for companies and employees in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, initially in pilot regions. Once the pilot project has been successfully completed, the service will be rolled out to the entire industry. 

Finally, the IG BCE and BAVC are driving forward the issue of continuing education – a key topic for mastering digital and ecological transformation – at various levels. Beyond the qualification initiative for the chemical industry, they have set themselves a Target image for further training 4.0 up to 2025 – ten industry targets by the middle of the decade. They are also official partners in the German government’s national continuing education strategy.

As you can see: Continuing education is important to us because the right skills are important: for the future of companies and employees. 

And now enjoy reading, learning and planning for the future!

Use and added value of the results

For whom is this report written?

This report is intended to add value for three primary target groups, which are presented below as examples:

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Business leaders

The report provides you with facts and figures to shape future strategy:

Recognize strengths and weaknesses of the industry in comparison with the global competitive environment.

Learn even more about the skills needed to drive trends.

Identify regions where trends are developing and innovation is being driven.

Gain an even better understanding of the roles and skills needed to support the chemical-pharmaceutical industry of the future.

Define the organization of the future​

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Human resources / works councils

The report supports you in aligning the skills in the company with future requirements:

Use the report to update existing job descriptions.

Communicate the skill requirements outlined in this report to your employees​.

Review your training & learning programs​.

Use the report to develop and upskill the workforce:

Integrate the findings from this report into strategic workforce planning processes.

Set up learning journeys for (cross-functional) developments​.

Use the report to recruit talent of the future with future-ready job postings.

Define the workforce of the future

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The report provides guidance for professional development:

Get to know the future relevant skills in your profession even better.

Use the report to discover personal career opportunities.

Identify personal skill gaps and development potential.

Expand your understanding of the dynamic impact of trends on the professions.

Define personal developments

The Future Skills Report Chemistry in numbers

200.000+ job postings from the chemical & pharma industry were analyzed.

The scope and parameteres of the ‘Future Skills Report Chemistry’ was jointly defined in three workshops held in 2020 between IG BCE, BAVC, HRForecast and experts from companies in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries as well as works councils.

Focus contry: Germany.
Benchmarking partners: EU, USA, China.

The insights of this report are derived by AI-generated analysis based on publicly available data.


A skill is everything that a person can apply to carry out a task. Hence, this definition includes:

– personal traits (e.g. empathy, motivation, hands-on mentality, reliability)
– social skills (e.g. communication, leadership, customer affinity)
– knowledge (e.g. experience, industry and domain know-how, tools & applications, hardware components)
– methods (e.g. Scrum, DevOps, offer process, programming languages, testing methods, medical treatments)
– education degrees
– language skills
– …and even hobbies, interests

The job titles in this report are not based on national or international publicly available occupational classifications, but are derived from a globally collected and standardized data pool. The job classification used consists of over 20,000 different job titles derived from over 35 million standardized data points. The library is constantly updated with market data to reflect the highly dynamic nature of today’s labor markets and job requirements. The hierarchical structure of the library allows for more comprehensive analyses at different levels of detail to best meet the needs of all stakeholders of this report.

2020 was a turbulent and unpredictable year – also for labor markets and talent demands. Since this report focuses on long-term trends rather than short-term variances or so called ‘COVID-effects’, it was editorially decided to only compare data from 2018 and 2019.

Key facts.

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> 200.000

job postings analyzed

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Different skills identified

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Jan 2018 to Dec 2019

Timeframe of the analysis

Frame 12

Focus industries

Chemical and pharmaceutical industry

Global distribution of the analyzed data points

Share of job postings by trends

Drivers of change in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry

The trend with the highest impact on the industry is ‘data science & analytics’*.

Around one in four job postings requires skills in this area. The three other trends that have a very high impact on the industry are biotechnology, digital sales and machine learning/AI. Around one of six job postings requires skills in each of these 3 areas.

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*Source: HRForecast data crawled from public sources (regions: Germany, EU, USA & China). Period analyzed: 01/2018 – 12/2019. Only data from the chemical & pharmaceutical industry was analyzed.

Skill evolution benchmark

There are more occupations with increasing demand than occupations with decreasing demand in the chemical- pharmaceutical industry.*

The workforce requirements are currently evolving at an unseen pace. More than half of the occupations in the industry are significantly impacted by changing skill requirements.

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*Source: HRForecast data crawled from public sources (regions: Germany, EU, USA & China). Period analyzed: 01/2018 – 12/2019. Only data from the chemical & pharmaceutical industry was analyzed.

Shifting the shares 2019 vs. 2018

Functional area benchmark

Administration is hit the hardest by digitization.

There is a medium to fast-paced transition towards jobs in more technical functional areas (R&D, production, IT). While the jobs in the functional area administration are still in high demand, a decline in demand is already clearly noticeable.

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*Source: HRForecast data crawled from public sources (regions: Germany, EU, USA & China). Period analyzed: 01/2018 – 12/2019. Only data from the chemical & pharmaceutical industry was analyzed.