Labour market for R&D staff employed in the private sector

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Research and development (R&D) by companies is a key driver of innovation, employment and economic growth. It is therefore an important task to ensure that Danish companies have access to qualified R&D staff who can support their R&D activities.

The need for knowledge on the R&D labour market is increasing in line with technological developments and the increasing international division of labour. This report outlines the latest trends in the private labour market for R&D staff. The project has been prepared for the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education

Main results

There is low job mobility among R&D staff. Just under 10% of the researchers change jobs per year. In comparison, approx. 16% of other employees who work at the highest knowledge level change jobs per year. In the same way, the proportion of researchers switching to the private sector is lower than for other employed persons at the highest knowledge level, and likewise the mobility between different parts of Denmark is low.

Among the surveyed companies that have tried to recruit R&D staff in 2015, every sixth has been unable to recruit the right labour. This corresponds roughly to the average in the labour market in general, where approx. every fifth company reports on recruitment challenges. It is only approx. 5% of private sector R&D staff that are recruited directly from abroad.

In 2013, just under 15% of the identified researchers in private companies had a PhD. The proportion of researchers with a PhD has risen slightly since 2010 where the share was at 13%. Looking at the demand for PhDs, the proportion of job postings at the highest knowledge level that are PhDs is approx. twice as large today compared to 2008.

The conclusion is that R&D staff have low job mobility, which can be challenging for the R&D companies that are experiencing recruitment problems.

The study is commissioned by the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education.


Højbjerre Brauer Schultz (2016): "Arbejdsmarkedet for privatansat FoU-personale".