Life sciences cost per hire will continue to rise at a rate of 7% per annually, talent pools continue to constrict and 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 don’t exist right now; how is your workforce planning going?
Talent is universally accepted as a key to competitive advantage. You need the best people for the job in order to be an outstanding company, so that more people will be attracted to join. Getting the right Talent Leader has never been more important and critical to a business. With continued advances in technology and artificial intelligence companies such as IBM are creating a global community for Talent Leaders to share experiences and explore pertinent topics that are impacting talent acquisition on a biannual basis.
Just to throw a curve ball in at this early stage. Whilst more Talent and HR talk and strategize, in my own 25 years of recruitment experience, I have never known a time when there has been such a shortage of skilled talent across all functions of life sciences and paradoxically, I have also never seen as many hurdles to hiring being created. Process for process sake?
To break this down simply, the talent that is out in the market is more often than not being treated as a commodity on their candidate journey. It is now taking between 6 to 8 weeks from a CV submission to offer stage. Some can take even l
onger. These slow, ineffective and often more laborious processes mean you lose more great hires than you gain. In fact, you often get left with available talent as opposed to the best talent. The winners emerging in the best talent race are the agile emerging or forward-thinking companies.
In our current UK condition of “off to hell in a Brexit made handcart”, the UK holds the majority of HR/Talent life science vacancies with 18.8% of the total EU market. Possibly a more interesting fact is hiring activity in the UK has increased by 17.5% in 2019 to date. This seems acutely at odds against the backdrop of the current media of what a disaster zone the UK is as we enter another Brexit milestone. I only make this observation based on the fact that in slow, uncertain or threatened economies hiring tends to slow or decline, not increase? If the hiring of HR and Talent is increasing, you assume overall job opportunities have also increased?
On a global scale, according to Radford’s Global Workforce Trends at Life Sciences Companies survey for Q2-Q3 2018, the industry continues to “compete fiercely for talent worldwide.” Many regions are experiencing “aggressive hiring” by life sciences companies. The survey discovered strong hiring upswings in India and the UK. This would again support the trends we are seeing in the growth of HR/Talent execs in the UK. You may believe the growth in talent is at the decline of the recruitment industry? But again we have seen major growth in start-up life science recruitment companies as well.
The fastest developing country in Europe is Poland, where recruitment has increased by 60%, compared to 2018 and now accounts for 8.7% of the total vacancies across Europe. Poland might not be the first place you associate with biotech, but the country is becoming an emerging hotspot for pharmaceutical companies and biotech start-ups whilst also looking to develop its MedTech market. The second busiest country accounting for 6.3% of HR vacancies is Ireland. Here the demand for Recruitment professionals has increased by 100%, compared to 2018.
The report also notes that Slovakia is becoming a leading hub for Recruitment roles, with volumes rocketing by 7 times more than in the previous two years. The Life Sciences sector in Slovakia is represented mainly by the production of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics. Strong R&D focus on life sciences sector and a growing presence of large international companies performing R&D. The gift of Slovakia is its qualified and cost–effective workforce with a high education level. Although this sector accounts for a relatively small share on the entire industrial production, it offers great potential for new investors. Like Ireland, Slovakia offers attractive tax rates and investment incentives so it is likely that it will continue to attract life sciences organisations. Centrally located in Europe, a member of the Eurozone and boasting a highly skilled population, the country is one to watch in the sector.
However, perhaps one of the greatest challenges of life sciences is the growing skill shift created by the new technologies coming through. All this disruption in life sciences is having an impact on talent strategies globally, necessitating a new approach to recruiting, training, motivating and retaining the best teams to support business transformation and growth in the “Patient First” era. For many years people viewed contract, freelance, and gig employment as “alternative work,” options considered to be supplementary to full-time jobs. Today, this segment of the workforce has gone mainstream, and it needs to be managed strategically. Given growing skill shortages and the low birth rate in many countries, leveraging and managing “alternative” workforces will become essential to business growth in the years ahead. This is Talent/HR heavy work will need to be augmented by expert life science staffing organisations.