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How Recent Investments Could Change the Life Sciences Job Market

21 May 2021

By Jay Freeman

How Recent Investments Could Change the Life Sciences Job Market

Life sciences as an industry are always in flux, experiencing rapid periods of growth and technological development.

The global healthcare information technologies (HCIT) market size is projected to reach $270.3 billion by 2021, driven primarily by the pandemic and high returns on investment, with the third quarter of 2020 being the largest on record for dollars for venture investment in life sciences generally.

All in all, investment is set to continue rising, and influencing the growth of the sector.

In last week’s blog post, we spoke about how recent investments in life sciences could change the hiring process for life sciences organisations, but what will the changes be for the sector’s job market?

Let’s find out.

The current outlook

Venture capital (VC) funding for life sciences companies in Europe has reached over €15.5bn over the past five years, which marks an annual growth of 16% per annum over the same period. 

Investor demand has increased for longer, more secure income streams during 2020, which has pushed the European life sciences sector into the spotlight.

European Research and Development (R&D) is a particular area of interest, with investment into R&D facilities reaching €889m during the first three quarters of 2020.

Another area of note attracting 61% of the funding of European life sciences investors is the biotech sector3, which also points towards potential job market trends as both areas continue to receive the highest share of investments.

Worldwide Med Tech sales are forecast to grow from $475bn to $595bn by 2024, which means an increased demand for skilled workers in the sector also.

Skills shortages

With high investment comes high demand, and with that, a shift in the skills that are highly sought after to fill vacancies.

Whilst there is a necessity to upskill the current workforce, there is also a demand for the talent pipeline to have up-to-date digital, computational and engineering skills.

Additionally, intangible (also known as soft) skills, such as creativity, originality, and problem-solving skills are cited in the Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy as essential counterparts to technical skills.

In order to drive the innovation resulting from increased investments, candidates looking to enter the life sciences sector can expect these key skills to be in-demand:

  • Digital and statistical literacy: making the most of the rising digitalisation of life sciences means attracting candidates with data science skills, particularly for clinical data and other areas of R&D.

  • Communication skills: the advancement of technology, combined with the newer ways of collaboration, mean that soft skills relating to communication, such as team-working, problem solving, and adaptability are essential skills.

The rapid technological advancements and increased funding culminate in digital, statistical, and transferable skills all being in higher demand across disciplines.

In the pharmaceutical industry alone, demand for social and emotional skills is projected to increase to one third in the next ten years, which frontline workers already consider to be critical for success.

Collaboration

Deloitte predicts increased investments in biopharma companies towards data, analytics, technologies and research collaborations5.

Research collaborations require team-based and multi-disciplinary working, and with remote roles still common across the sector, there is a greater emphasis on the collaborative skills needed to keep operations running smoothly.

Primarily, a need to be adaptable and flexible is necessary, as processes continue to evolve and technology continues to advance.

This goes hand-in-hand with the rise of secondments in biotech, which means that candidates with an eagerness to learn will be vital to keep up with the demand as a result of increased investment.

Technology drivers 

Having already raised €1.8B investment in 2020, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another imminent trend in relation to discovery and development, which can be said to be a driver behind the renewed focus on soft skills as a counterpart to automation.

Demand for data analysts, data scientists, and data engineers is predicted to be four times higher than supply, so candidates with talent in these areas may find a multitude of options available.

The fastest rise as a result of investments into technological advancements is likely to be IT and programming skills, which are likely to grow considerably as digitalisation continues to impact the life sciences sector at large.

According to McKinsey, frontline employees in the pharmaceutical industry cite data analysis and critical thinking as of high importance, whilst the decline of basic data-input and processing skills due to automation puts basic cognitive skills on the backburner.

Increased job security and satisfaction

As mentioned in our last blog post, 62% of life sciences jobs were positively impacted during a period of time where most industries were experiencing high vacancies and low application rates7.

59% of European life sciences professionals felt confident in keeping their jobs over the next six months, despite the uncertainty around job security globally and struggling economies.

As a sector, life sciences have the appeal of being resilient due to continually high investment, and this is a key area of appeal to candidates – 42% of life sciences professionals also feel positive about the current jobs market!

Additionally, these professionals have higher job satisfaction, with half feeling satisfied with their current job, and half also saying they plan to stay with their current employer over the next six months.

The perception around the future of the life sciences sector, particularly given the record-high investment, is extremely positive.

Conclusion

Rising investment seems to be positively impacting the life sciences jobs market, with a variety of opportunities for potential candidates at a time when job security and the chance to be involved in innovation are in high demand.

Technology and collaboration continue to drive job market trends, and with investments showing no signs of slowing down, they are likely to continue impacting the trajectory of the sector.

If you’d like to discuss anything we’ve covered above, or find out more about opportunities in the life sciences sector, get in touch today.

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