A duty dodged is like a debt unpaid; it is only deferred, and we must come back and settle the account at last

Our latest industry analytics report features analysis on 2019.

Clinical Professionals Group CEO, Yvette Cleland comments:

“The UK is now on a course very much focused on leaving the EU. There are a plethora of scenarios being peddled across the industry, often based on emotion as much as fact. Last year however our data shows an 18.5% increase in scientist vacancies throughout the UK with a concentrated cluster being based in the Golden Triangle. The most significant percentage increase in live open positions at 169% appeared with in IT/Technology within life sciences.

I wonder how many life sciences companies are heavily invested in skills development?

Other indicators to support a robust opportunity comes from real estate where we are seeing growing and continued demand for space in laboratories and R&D. The sector currently contributes £74bn to the UK economy, but to fully understand the potential; analysis of capital raising (including Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) and venture capital (VC) transactions) by UK HQ companies was £27bn in 2019, 135% higher than 2018. In a world of increasing uncertainty this underlying pattern of investment and growth gives some confidence in what our future outside of the EU could be.

Our data on 2019 open vacancies demonstrates a further level of new opportunities, but it also demonstrates the high levels of “churn” of staff in life sciences. Early forecasts for staff demand in the UK life sciences industry to 2030 indicate a demand for 133,000 skilled scientific staff. These are highly specialised roles mostly within Biopharmaceuticals (R&D and Manufacturing), Medical Technologies (R&D and Manufacturing) and this also looks to create further opportunity in services and supply chain. How many training and development programs do organisations have in place currently to play their part in our current and future skills agenda?

Current trends in investment, requirement for real estate etc offer a positive light of opportunity and yet as an industry we walk quite blindly into a future that is in no way supported by enough investment in STEM skills. The often and much maligned staffing industry offers one of the broadest insights into what is really happening in the life sciences industries in real time and long before extensive reports are collated and delivered.

Anecdotally having been involved in apprenticeship scheme trailblazers, funding graduate training and development programs and always reinvesting in the industries skills agenda we see a low uptake from large pharma and CRO’s in new to industry people. In fact biopharma/medtech/CRO keep waiting for their competitors to train up staff (which rarely happens), continue to ask for “three to five years’ experience” and then when a great candidate agrees to be interviewed, the candidate experience can be long, drawn out and lacking in information, often with a negative and convoluted experience. The number of hurdles we as an industry have put in place would indicate we don’t actually wish to hire great talent but want to create a process and experience that destroys any form of potential engagement.

It is encouraging to see so many underlying positives in terms of opportunity for the UK to join with the US in terms of global centres of excellence in life sciences. To have come so far, evangelise on the importance of our people and yet build little or nothing of a future skills base would indicate there may be many business leaders focusing on the wrong things, if they truly wish to build a sustainable business.

I didn’t start my career with three to five years of experience, I wonder how many current executives and senior professionals did? With that in mind, it would be prudent when planning new space, new trials and new business areas to also plan to train good people and give opportunity to the immense emerging talent.

A duty dodged is like a debt unpaid; it is only deferred, and we must come back and settle the account at last. If we continue to ignore the vast requirement for developing new talent, recognising current talent in our own business and cross skill training into emerging roles, it could be said, there is a dereliction of duty that our industry will pay a very high price for along with the patients that we wish to serve.”

If you would like to view the full report and other industry analytics reports we have available please visit here

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