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How Investments Can Impact Hiring for Your Life Sciences Organisation

14 May 2021

By Jay Freeman

How Investments Can Impact Hiring for Your Life Sciences Organisation

In our last blog, we spoke about how, despite the unprecedented changes of 2020, investment in the life sciences sector has reached record-high levels across subsectors.

With the Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy report citing the potential for life sciences to create 133,000 jobs, the next area of importance on the agenda is hiring.

Let’s take a look at how investments in life sciences can impact hiring for your organisation.

The current outlook

In the life sciences sector, vacancies are steadily increasing, up to 18% quarter on quarter at the beginning of 2021.

Applications for life sciences roles, however, aren’t increasing at the same pace. Up by only 6% in Q1 of 2021 compared to the last three months of 2020, life sciences organisations can expect that the ‘war for talent’ is imminent.

This isn’t a new challenge for the life sciences sector, as finding the skillsets required for roles in the sector can be notoriously time-consuming, but extremely essential in promoting industry growth.

As increased investments continue to make the life sciences sector a key economic driver, finding talent is proving to be a higher cost than the real estate that is becoming so essential to the industry at large.

The influence of life sciences real estate investment

Investment in life sciences real estate is continually growing, and is expected to continue to do so over the next half a decade, with predictions of investment in European life sciences real estate up to £800 million in 2021, as mentioned in our last blog.

This investment significantly influences hiring in the sector, primarily due to the appeal of accelerated growth to candidates who wish to be in a role that provides towards ‘the greater good’.

In fact, Savills cites the delivery of more R&D space as vital for the UK’s growth in the life sciences sector, which is also true globally – being located to nearby academic institutes can create opportunities for accessing a skilled talent pool.

The demand for life sciences real estate (and the investment that comes with it) goes hand-in-hand with the 98% of companies surveyed by the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult that indicated they would increase their headcount in the next five years.

Consistent increases in real estate investment mean that certain hotspots may create higher demand for candidates to fill vacancies, which could be competitive or collaborative, depending on location.

The demand for new skills

Investment in the UK artificial intelligence (AI) sector has increased by 17% over the past year, which highlights the shifting skills requirements as specific areas of the sector receive increased investment.

Investment in new and emerging technologies brings a necessity for hiring for different skills and investing in skills training.

Transferable skills are also on the rise, particularly due to the digitalisation that saw life sciences continue to go from strength-to-strength during the pandemic, despite the challenges.

Specialised skills in engineering such as automation and CAD design, artificial intelligence, and bioinformatics are all areas of interest, and therefore finding candidates with key data programming and modelling skills may offer your organisation a distinct advantage.

Biopharma is a predominant employer in the life sciences industry, and a survey of major biotech and biopharma companies found that, though many candidates had the appropriate academic degree and qualifications, new graduates were hired for less than 15% of all entry-level jobs5.

The primary reason? The graduates’ lack of transferable skills.

The ‘greater good’ effect

51% of people won’t work for a company that doesn’t have strong social or environmental commitments5

It’s not just essential in attracting candidates, but also to your retention strategy too, as 70% of workers say they are more loyal to a company with a social responsibility policy.

The unprecedented pace of change brought by the pandemic, combined with the increased investment in the sector, has seen new ways of working and the fastest novel vaccine development in history.

As a result, there is a heightened sense of trust in the industry, and a general perception that it is providing towards ‘the greater good’.

Traditional monetary benefits are shifting out in favour of a workforce that places importance on the value of their work, which is something that life sciences organisations should target in their hiring processes.

Additionally, experts see a renewed interest from medical students towards infectious disease, and a long-term increase in science, medicine, and pandemic-related research – the talent pool may be set to increase considerably!

Job security

As most industries experienced high vacancies, low application rates, and were generally negatively impacted, the life sciences sector saw 62% of jobs be positively impacted6.

Combine this with the record-high funding, and candidates are likely to perceive a higher level of job security in the sector, due to the exponential growth it has experienced in such uncertain times.

As more large value deals overtake the lower number of small deals globally in life sciences, the greater the perception of growth and security becomes for candidates entering the industry.

Organisations looking to hire are well positioned to attract candidates because of this, as it sets a precedent for the necessity of life sciences for society, whilst also providing the value that many job seekers look for (that their work has meaning and fulfils a purpose).

In conclusion

The life sciences sector is more at the forefront than ever before, and as investments continue to rise, as does the need to grow, and therefore, attract candidates.

Investments in real estate mean that organisations may expect a closer collaboration with academic institutions during the hiring process, whilst skills shortages due to high vacancies as a result of continued growth mean that transferable skills are in high demand.

Capitalising on the growth brought by these investments, and the global awareness of the impactful work life sciences has provided in such a pivotal and uncertain time, means that organisations can grow alongside the sector through their hiring process.

If you’re looking to secure top talent in the life sciences sector to help bring your products and services to market, get in touch with the Panda team.

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