2022 marked a promising year for the future of the pharmaceutical industry in the UK, as the number of new clinical trials rose after a four year drop in global rankings after a new government initiative was implemented.
However, keeping pace with this shift in momentum won’t be without its challenges over the coming year.
Debate surrounding the cost of participation in the UK’s VPAS scheme connecting the industry and the NHS is heightening. Meanwhile, Brexit agreements have led to the UK’s exit from the Horizon Europe research programme, increasing existing talent shortages and limiting access to scientific expertise required to lead new innovative ventures.
In this article, Behruz Sheikh explores three key talent trends shaping the foundation, and future of the pharmaceutical industry.
Read on to find out more about:
- The impact of talent shortages
- The renewed focus on talent retention
- How funding shortages are shifting access to talent
The impact of talent shortages in pharma
As pharmaceutical organisations make the shift towards digital, new roles are emerging and
existing ones are rapidly transforming. In the next decade, more than 90,000 pharmaceutical jobs are estimated to disappear and be replaced by up to 120,000 new roles.
In this climate of transformation and evolution, the skills gap is becoming increasingly apparent. 80% of pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities are experiencing a skills mismatch, and 50% of executives say that recruiting experienced staff is challenging. In the clinical trial sphere, 36% of drug developers say that staff shortages are limiting progress.
As organisations struggle to find experienced talent externally, attention is beginning to shift towards upskilling alongside recruitment to strengthen resources.
While having a set criteria when hiring a new employee is important, expert talent in today’s candidate market can often come at a higher price than companies expect. Upskilling less experienced employees can often offer companies an alternative route to stemming talent pipelines and fuelling project continuity.
In my line of work, I’ve seen an influx of capable scientific talent re-enter the workforce from COVID laboratories; which have largely receded in number. These professionals have established experience working in a laboratory and although they do not come equipped with the same level of expertise as a seasoned professional, they can offer a sense of commitment and capability to adapt and develop the specialised expertise required for required laboratory functions.
Considering candidates from more alternative backgrounds as described above can bring the added benefit of diversity of thought and improved performance - 51% of Fortune 500 companies say diversity actively improves employee engagement – a key attribute to performance in the lab.
At SRG we connect our clients in pharma with our diverse talent networks, and employ techniques across the hiring process to reduce bias and improve inclusivity including anonymising CVs and facilitating remote interviews.
The renewed focus on talent retention
Working in the pharmaceutical industry relies on developing a specific technical skills-set.
This often deters professionals from moving to alternative jobs, and heavily impacts businesses when they do – as project continuity is impacted in absence of the right expertise.
However, the ‘Great Resignation’ of 2020-2022 reflected a change in sentiment in the professional pharmaceutical community, as 54% of pharmaceutical professionals who left their roles during the event did not return to the same industry.
A recent survey led by BioSpace shows that 67% of pharmaceutical professionals are looking to change roles in the next 12 months. Of this group, 54% cite they are moving in pursuit of a more challenging career and 35% say they are moving to attain a greater amount of compensation.
Offering more competitive salaries, or alternatively proactively creating new opportunities for existing employees to upskill, thrive and develop in their careers in increasingly integral for businesses to stay competitive and retain employees.
How funding shortages are shifting access to talent
Increases to the voluntary scheme for branded medicine pricing and access rebate level (VPAS), where companies selling branded medicines costing over £5m to the NHS must pay a rebate fee, are persuading companies to shift trading practices with the UK.
86% of members of the Ethical Medicines Interest Group say that the VPAS rebate level was unsustainable for their business, and 75% of members suggested that the 2023 VPAS rebate would drive a reduction of investment in UK clinical research by 10-20%.
Meanwhile government funding over COVID-19 has continued to subside as focus is redoubled in alternative areas in the life science space.
In 2021, M&A activity heightened in this evolving landscape to record breaking heights before declining in 2022. This year, the industry is seeing the effects of these mergers as an increased number of organisations improve their capabilities and service offerings in light of their new acquisitions.
However, while some organisations can afford to purchase smaller businesses to optimise pipelines, other businesses in pharma are making redundancies in light of the current economic and funding climate.
This has created an additional talent pool of specialist pharmaceutical talent, which with the right hiring strategy in place, can be valuable additions to growing teams seeking to keep pace with larger competitors.
How to build an accurate hiring strategy for today’s recruitment market
The right hiring strategy is more critical than ever in today’s pharmaceutical industry as the competition for talent heightens. With the importance of retention and time to hire in mind, hiring accuracy depends on having access to the right talent network, and having the ability to effectively assess the quality of candidates before they make it to interview.
At SRG, we’ve harnessed video technology to streamline this technique. In a recent project, our consultants led video-interviews based on the specific qualities the line manager required. We then provided a shortlist of these videos alongside candidate profiles directly to our client, before facilitating an onsite interview.
This technique meant that we increased the quality of candidates coming to site, as our clients were able to make a clear and informed decision based on not just a CV, but a video introduction which helped bring the person behind the application to the forefront, before the interview stage even occurred.
Click here to find out more about how SRG could help you with your next pharmaceutical recruitment project.