The life science industry in California remains robust, with more than 360,000 jobs in biotechnology, medical devices and diagnostics – but the soaring cost of real estate may impact its future ability to compete, according to a new study.

The life science workforce report released June 5 by two institutes run by Biocom and California Life Sciences Association points to significant trends affecting the $169 billion industry.

New technologies and rapid change have fueled the need for an evolving workforce, with new technologies such as CRISPR/gene editing and computing leading to major shifts in a need for top talent, it said. Tech companies now compete for some of the same skilled workers.

At the same time, employers continue to seek “soft skills” to help in strong teamwork, communication and problem solving. Diversity is now valued to drive innovation. And the life sciences industry reaps rewards by partnering with universities.

Amgen Inc. of Thousand Oaks continues to be the leading employer, followed by Pfizer Inc., based in New York, and Genentech Inc., based in South San Francisco, according to the 2018 Talent Integration report.

On the downside is California’s skyrocketing cost of housing, which could threaten long-term industry sustainability, with employees drawn to lower-cost states in the Midwest or Texas, the 20-page study concluded.

The joint study by the Biocom Institute and the California Life Sciences Institute looked at nearly 10,000 life science job postings across the state, surveyed nearly 120 human resource managers and interviewed more than 40 leading life science executives.

Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at dbartholomew@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart