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How is the Biotech job sector?

I am interested to know about Biotech/lifesciences jobs situation now and prospects for the future (on behalf of nephews career decision), since the Gov is emphasising lifescience for long time. Agencies like A-Star seem to have money to throw on this area.

Also what about the Biopolis which was hyped in front page of ST more than an year ago, but nothing is said now? It was said to employ 2000 scientists or so and perform as a self contained city


All talks and no actions, I had this professor from Australa who was down here and gave some lectures. He told me nothing seems to be really happening, according to him he said it is not moving as fast as he thought it would be or nothing great. So, if you are expecting it to be something like the IT boom, then sorry to say it is just not happening yet or not here at all. But in America maybe, however, they are now very strict in giving
visas to students who wishes to pursue a science education like Biology, afraid you might later work for or build weapons of Bio nature for unsavoury people.


As far as i know the official opening of Biopolis is is slated for
completion from June 2003 to March 2004

Also, there have been rather good occupancy commitments from both the commercial and academic sectors. Was in the papers today that Novartis is scheduled to move their Institute for Tropical Diseases into Biopolis, doing research for TB and Dengue.

As far as I know the tenancy is filling out rather nicely.

For the life sciences development in Singapore to move along smoothly, it will require a joint effort from the government support branches e.g. EDB, A-star, the commercial sector ( the pharmaceuticals are the ones with alot of money to pump), the academic sector and of course the people will need to provide a viable skilled labour base that is up to mark to attract these
sectors into investing here.

>I am interested to know about Biotech/lifesciences jobs situation now >and prospects for the future (on behalf of nephews career decision), >since the Gov is emphasising lifescience for long time. Agencies like
>A-Star seem to have money to throw on this area.

>Also what about the Biopolis which was hyped in front page of ST more >than an year ago, but nothing is said now? It was said to employ 2000 >scientists or so and perform as a self contained city.

You didn’t indicate that he has a passion for this field. Just that
it might make him a good living.

I presume he intends to get a PhD to qualify for that biotech
scientist glam job. A PhD means he won’t start earning until his late 20s or early 30s. He will never retire with the same firm he
started with. Say by his late 30s or early 40s and the firm he is
employed in dumps him.

Can he find employment in another field? Can he make a living on his own? Has he that ability to take life in his own hands?
Take into consideration that Biotech projects live or die on grants and product development cycles. Worse biotech depends on fresh and young ideas. Employment will be discontinuous and uncertain. Years of experience has no advantage unless one is the top scientist or the boss. Look beyond what ST says and go read up the foreign professional journals where there are articles on employment statistics and job advertisements listed. The job specs there will be very sobering.


Electronics and physics is also pretty crowded at present just as in everything else. But at least it provides the skills that he can
design and make something on his own even if it is only repairing his car and wiring up the house. That is very important, the
constructional skills to actually make something, not just a
theoretical engineer designing stuff on a computer or managing a
production line. Here years of experience does have some relevance although we have come across very experienced and highly qualified EEs who, for the first time in their lives, find themselves unemployable. (See the June or July isssue of IEEE Spectrum.)

The survival skill is to get a professional degree that will qualify
him to take a different specialty degree. And when all else fails,
one can always hang up a shingle and set up shop. You can’t do that in life sciences. I have a friend who has a Civil Engineering
qualification and that employment sector had been in the doldrums since the 80s. So while he struggled between short contract assignments he took a masters in high pressure welding. He has more work than he can handle now and really all he need to do is to inspect specifications on drawing done by the customer and sign off on them. The law requires that a person of his caliber signs off on such projects. These customers are heavy industry companies and his fees, impressive as they are to me, are a small expense for such projects.

Another word of advice. As much as possible he should get a future wife who is not in the same job specialty. At least both won’t die together if that job sector dies.

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