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Why are we seeing shortages of talent in the life sciences industry?

Janis Slisans our consultant managing the role
Posted by Janis Slisans
Published on 15 September 2022

Even in the midst of multiple economic recessions, the life sciences industry has represented a relatively stable sector over the past 20 years. But a worldwide pandemic, and its aftermath on working culture, is a challenge that is proving to be a match for the industry. Whilst the life sciences job market is expected to grow 7% by 2028, and as the UK pushes forward to world leader status, a lack of talent in the field represents a very real concern. Here we look into why it is we are seeing shortages of talent in the life sciences industry.

New Technology

Every aspect of life sciences organisations are being overhauled by digital technologies. So now, more than ever, the industry is crying out for experienced staff with the digital skills that can help support future innovation - leading to a change of roles in the ecosystem.  

Whilst life sciences jobs proved to be relatively ‘pandemic-proof’, being one of the few industries that actually witnessed an expansion in workforce, it is not without its competition. As new vaccine and diagnostic technologies are in constant development, life sciences organisations are increasingly competing with IT and other mission critical industries for a shrinking pool of tech talent.

Artificial Intelligence is a particularly hot new technology making major contributions across Life Sciences fields that is greatly influencing the life science jobs on the market. Publications based on AI research in the life sciences sector have grown from 0 – 3000 per year over the past two decades, so it comes as no surprise that demand for AI Intelligence Experts and Software Engineer jobs are expected soar in coming years.

Greater Demand

For over two years, COVID-19 has put the life sciences industry under enormous pressure to continually innovate, resulting in increasing demand for talent. The sector is evolving faster than ever, with 71% of life sciences companies planning to grow their workforce over the coming months.

An area in particular that is growing at an unparalleled rate is that of biotechnology research and development. After major advances in biotechnology delivered revolutionary mRNA vaccine technology, there has been an explosion of new biotech start-ups and additional funding ascribed to the field. In fact, this market experienced 11.5% growth between January 2021 to 2022, but the talent in the industry is struggling to keep up.

Workplace Culture Change

Since the pandemic, there has been a shift in perspective across industries changing the way employers think about their work life. Workers are putting more weight on company culture, flexibility, benefits, and career progression – and some are resigning if their current role is not reaching these standards. As such, employees in high pressured working environments have been reporting feelings of burnout, leaving their positions and since, there has been a call for the life sciences industry to champion better workplace flexibility. Telehealth services, where healthcare professions give medical advice remotely, is a post pandemic movement helping drive the demand for this change.

How is this being addressed?

The UK government have initiated a major Life Sciences Skills Strategy to reach Life Sciences Vision targets by 2030. To support the continued growth of the industry, particular emphasis is being placed on working closely with industry leaders to fund high quality apprenticeships. Life sciences and pharmaceutical organisations have also shown that upskilling employees with technical skills is already being effective in addressing talent shortages. A further 84% of organisations have noted that placing more focus on employee experience than ever before. It will be an important part of talent acquisition for the industry moving forward to ensure their organisation stands out with a desirable workplace culture, flexible working opportunities and investment in diversity.  

Are you looking for a Life Sciences job?

The life sciences industry continues to be critical to not only public health, but economy growth. It is an incredibly exciting field, with endless opportunities and continued innovation – and at Quanta, we’re at the centre of it all. As a specialist life sciences recruitment agency, we can help you find your next job – be it contract or permanent, in pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals or pharmacovigilance. Get in touch with the team today or explore our life sciences jobs here.