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Clinical Professional’s Industry Analytic Report: 2018 in Review

The Clinical Professionals group aim to be aware of the latest industry events and news whilst also aspiring to be at the forefront of the latest analytics and reporting. This enables our consultants to provide a concise and quality service for both clients and candidates, whilst helping the industry to evolve as a whole.

Consequently, the Clinical Professionals group has collaborated with Vacancysoft to create monthly reports that provide an in-depth analysis of vacancies across various sectors, countries and companies.

The latest CPIA report features analysis and UK vacancy data from 2018.

Clinical Professionals Group CEO, Yvette Cleland comments:

Research by the UK government in the mid part of 2018 showed that the UK life sciences sector was soaring with a record turnover of over £70 billion, of which SMEs accounted for 82% of businesses and 24% of all UK life sciences employment. Although this doesn’t quite match with the expectations and knowledge of what we felt Brexit would bring in terms of impact. Some of this unexpected news could be attributed to the events in 2017 when, again in the face of Brexit, the UK received the highest level of life science foreign direct investment projects in Europe. The highest for 7 years and in fact the UK continues to have one of the most productive health and life sciences sectors in the world. The modern Industrial Strategy’s launched in 2017 under the term Life Sciences Sector Deal, has been focused on supporting UK PLC in the life science sector. The main goal being to develop and launch the next generation of medicines, technologies and diagnostics providing better care and treatments for millions of patients.

As a staffing business leader I look at many different trends to identify what is really happening out there. A main bench mark, for obvious reasons, would be the flow of jobs and projects occurring within the life sciences market. Based on what has been looking like a disorderly Brexit and continued negative media feedback, it was surprising to see the total number of UK life sciences vacancies rise by 20% in 2`018. This is further backed up by the government’s life sciences investment project, as businesses look to invest further in the pursuit of profit through drug discovery, with financial markets enabling further wealth creation in the industry.

Across the sector, vacancies for clinical research organisations stand out, with figures showing a 26% rise on 2017’s figures.
In comparison, the pharmaceuticals and biotechnology sectors saw growth of 4% and 1% respectively. It’s clear that the key growth area for 2018 was in clinical research organisations. Taking a closer look at life sciences vacancies by region, analysis of some of the emerging hubs around the country shows major growth for life sciences vacancies in both London and Slough, with the two hubs gaining solid growth of 55% and 69% respectively.

In terms of non-clinical/non-scientific roles, 2018 was a notable year for IT professional vacancies within life sciences. The growth of vacancies in 2018 seems to correlate with the idea that technology is expected to transform the industry, as vacancy figures rose by 39% in 2018 compared to 2017’s results. With the arrival of the fourth industrial revolution, the life sciences sector continues to embark on a transformative technology journey. Companies, today, are preparing for the future by embracing these technologies and building a patient-centric culture. IT professionals are now the second-largest non-clinical role by number within life sciences, and this perhaps aligns with the industry view that 2018 was the year that the life sciences industry really began to embrace technology and AI.

As part of the Life Sciences Sector Deal, which brought together significant commitments and investments into the UK by 25 global organisations from across the sector, the government has worked closely with industry to deliver its strategic vision and in 2018 launched major projects, that included allocating £30 million from a £100 million study to sequence the UK Biobank. This will provide a unique resource to identify new drug therapies and redefine the gold standard for genome sequencing. In addition the world’s first study to establish centres of excellence in digital pathology and medical imaging in the NHS, were set up. The use of the digital images generated will help develop artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms for more accurate diagnosis of diseases. The hope is this will potentially improve NHS efficiencies and will over time create up to 5 Digital Innovation Hubs across the UK. The Hubs will enhance the UK’s global competitiveness in clinical trials and create a unique business environment.

In addition, an investment of £65 million through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will further support this. The establishment of three advanced therapy treatment centres across the country will support medicine manufacturing and provide industry with access to cutting-edge technology to commercialise and develop innovations that can scale.

It does not seem possible that “the lights will go out” overnight, if for example we “crash” out of the EU. This however would create a vast level of chaos and uncertainty. These two factors could mean the lights go onto a dimmer switch and blow eventually. Or, as some ardent Brexiteers would say, allow the UK to do business further afield and continue on our journey as a global centre of excellence for life sciences. There is no certainty around what, at the time of writing this, a life outside of the EU will mean. The EU itself is currently going through its own form of “meltdown” with core economies in countries such as France, Germany and Italy showing heightened levels of instability alongside a rise in populist movements. So; crucial to all of our futures has to be, whatever the final Brexit deal looks like, leaving in an orderly manner is essential. Every cloud however has a silver lining. Although all aircraft may be grounded and no visas granted to UK travellers to Europe, the Portuguese have come to our rescue and said if we can get a flight out, we will have our own special UK citizen line at Faro. Always a light at the end of every dark tunnel. Thank you Portugal.

The 2018 in review CPIA report and other editions can be viewed here.