Getting talent back on the pharma agenda

It’s perhaps fair to say that the changes within pharmaceutical outsourcing over recent years have led to a level of disruption for talent strategies. As organisations have moved from solely internal teams of clinical professional and researchers, to fully outsourced divisions, right up to the mix we see today, there’s one key audience that have perhaps been overlooked: the talent itself.

The upheaval the industry has noted isn’t surprising given the challenges most organisations have faced, from clinical trials failing to clients demanding more. But while the changing pharma environment and budget constraints can’t always be helped, it’s important that the people element of business isn’t pushed to one side. At the end of the day, it is this talent that really places organisations ahead of the competition.

The risk is that companies will soon find – if they haven’t already – that they are losing some of their top talent due to cutbacks and an unstable career path within the business. And with a skills shortage in STEM students and qualified university leavers, the potential employee base is slimming down. The added increasing demand for quality in a more complex business environment narrows this talent pool even more. But if the pharma industry continues to shirk responsibility for effective talent pipelining, it won’t be long before the skills situation becomes dire.

Obviously there will still be limits for organisations in terms of resources, but that doesn’t mean talent cannot be engaged with to ensure there is a pipeline of candidates available when needed. Admittedly it can be nigh on impossible to know what talent you will need three, five or even ten years from now, but by building a community of skilled individuals and, most importantly, engaging with them, the pharma industry will be in a much better position when demand for new skills arises.

While this may seem a daunting task, there are of course ways to work with your outsourced supplier to get the right messaging across to potential employees. This can range from a joint effort with your staffing agency to engage with the emerging talent arena at an early stage, or the use of functional service provision (FSP) businesses for access to a flexible workforce.

Regardless of the solution organisations opt for, what is vital is that the industry gets talent back at the top of its agenda. Without the highly skilled people to drive innovation and clinical research, the pharmaceutical sector will struggle to progress.

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