5 Trends Shaping the Future of Life Sciences Recruitment

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Life sciences is a dynamic, fast-paced sector where innovation and discovery pave the way fo...

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Life sciences is a dynamic, fast-paced sector where innovation and discovery pave the way for progress. 

In this rapidly evolving industry, staying ahead in your recruitment strategy isn’t just important - it’s the key to securing top talent and maintaining an edge over your competition. 

By understanding the trends and developments shaping the sector, you’ll be well-equipped to future-proof your talent acquisition approach, tackling the hiring challenges that Life Sciences organisations worldwide are facing. 

In the UK alone, the Life Sciences industry is worth over £94 billion, making it one of the most successful sectors in the country. With trends like the growing demand for specialised skills, the development of innovative technology, and a greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion reshaping the Life Sciences job market, companies and candidates alike can look forward to a bright and thriving future. 

With that in mind, we’re exploring five top trends shaping the Life Sciences recruitment space not only now, in 2023, but well into the future! 

1.    Increased Demand for Talent

The Life Sciences industry has experienced unprecedented growth, largely driven by factors such as an ageing population, technological advancement, and a rise in chronic diseases. Consequently, Life Sciences companies increasingly need highly skilled professionals to fill vital roles, particularly in fields like data, biotechnology, and regulatory affairs. 

But despite the pressing demand for top talent, many companies are struggling to source the candidates they require, largely due to ongoing skills shortages, regulatory hurdles, and cutthroat competition.  

Although the Life Sciences sector has played a significant role in global health for many years, it’s been since the COVID-19 pandemic that the demand for talent has exploded, after pharmaceutical and medical technology firms were tasked with producing life-saving vaccines and treatments at scale in a relatively short time frame. 

Since then, the demand for talent in the industry has grown exponentially, with 71% of Life Sciences companies planning to expand their workforce over the coming years. 

But with so many businesses intending to expand their teams, businesses need to develop innovative methods of attracting and retaining all-important Life Sciences professionals. That’s because the demand for top talent is continuing to outpace the available supply. Still, there are numerous strategies companies can implement to attract outstanding talent, from establishing a compelling employer brand to offering competitive compensation packages

If you’d like to learn more about overcoming skill shortages and recruiting the right professionals for your organisation, check out our How to Overcome Skill Shortages in Life Sciences Recruitment guide. 

2.    Development of Innovative Technologies

Another key trend impacting Life Sciences recruitment is the rapid development of innovative technologies. 

While the digital transformation of society is having far-reaching implications for many industries, the Life Sciences sector, in particular, finds itself at the forefront of this era-defining shift. 

In fact, the adoption of groundbreaking technologies like AI and machine learning has brought many benefits, including improved diagnoses, more effective treatments, and reduced cost of patient care. 

With 74% of Life Sciences companies planning to scale AI across their businesses, it’s clear that the growing usage of state-of-the-art technology shows no sign of slowing down. 

But, while the growing adoption of AI and machine learning offers numerous advantages for the industry as a whole, the trend profoundly influences hiring needs in the sector. That’s because there’s considerable concern about AI’s potential to make certain roles redundant, and as state-of-the-art technology evolves, many candidates may find it difficult to keep up with the pace of change, resulting in an even wider skills gap. 

In spite of these various challenges associated with digital transformation, there’s also a lot of optimism regarding its impact on Life Sciences recruitment. See, the integration of AI will create a significant number of jobs and give employers a golden opportunity to retain high-quality staff by providing them with AI-related training and development resources. 

On top of that, innovative technology can also be effective when recruiting candidates, with AI tools capable of streamlining hiring tasks like talent screening, assessment, and onboarding. 

3.    Remote Working

Remote working has become the norm for many Life Sciences professionals, and while this trend has been developing for many years, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that accelerated its widespread adoption. 

In fact, it’s been since then that flexible working options have changed the nature of many Life Sciences jobs, particularly in areas such as software engineering and healthcare communications. Even for those in research and development roles, hybrid options have meant they’re able to monitor the progress of virtual clinical trials in a remote setting. 

Since flexible working options have become normalised, they’ve also grown to become a non-negotiable requirement for many Life Sciences professionals, and companies have been quick to adapt to this growing demand. 

In fact, according to a survey conducted by MassBio, 97% of Life Sciences companies intend to implement long-term hybrid working models, illustrating just how commonplace remote working has become. 

Therefore, when we look at the industry as a whole, with talent seeking out more flexible working options, organisations that fail to adopt such a policy may risk losing their competitive edge. In fact, research shows that employers offering hybrid or remote working options attract seven times more candidates than those who don’t.  

As remote working is likely to remain a fixture of working life for the foreseeable future, Life Sciences companies must listen to talent needs and embrace a new way of work. 

Of course, some employers may have reservations about how remote working affects productivity. However, the practice offers an array of advantages, including reducing overhead costs, minimising absenteeism, and allowing for more streamlined recruitment processes. 

Another silver lining for businesses looking to expand is that remote working options also widen talent pools for talent acquisition, as candidates in other locations can apply.

4.    Inflation and Economic Uncertainty

Inflation and economic uncertainty are ongoing challenges that are significantly affecting many industries, and Life Sciences is no exception. 

While the industry has always remained resilient amid financial instability, a growing number of businesses are feeling the impact of inflationary pressures. In fact, 1 in 4 Life Sciences and Pharmaceutical leaders claim to have been negatively affected by inflation, and it’s increasingly likely that economic turbulence will be a key issue for the Life Sciences market over the coming years. 

So, although Life Sciences remains relatively buoyant compared to other sectors, there’s no denying that the industry has experienced its fair share of recruitment difficulties due to rising inflation. 

For example, in a recent poll conducted by GlobalData, 78% of pharmaceutical executives claimed that inflation is currently the number one challenge for the industry; a figure that highlights the gravity with which industry leaders view the issue.  

Not only can economic uncertainty lead to reduced hiring budgets and longer hiring times, but it can also result in increased competition for talent, as passive candidates may be less likely to risk leaving their current positions. 

With the market indicating that these problems are likely to persist over the coming years, factors like an ageing population and the rising demand for pharmaceutical and Med Tech innovations suggest that the Life Sciences sector will be able to weather economic challenges. 

While the economic climate can seem disheartening, there are numerous strategies Life Sciences companies can implement to minimise the potential damage that inflation and economic instability pose to recruitment, including: 

  • Leveraging AI and other technologies to streamline recruitment processes and reduce hiring costs

  • Utilising employee referral schemes to attract high-calibre candidates minimises external recruitment expenses 

  • Increasing wages to keep up with the pace of inflation for attracting and retaining top talent 

5.    Greater Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion 

For the last few years, a greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion has been one of the most important trends affecting Life Sciences recruitment. 

Although the industry has made great strides in the right direction, research suggests that more progress is still needed. For example, a study conducted by Liftstream found that UK Life Sciences companies have made only modest progress on gender diversity at the board level, with women accounting for 14.8% of board members, while people from racial minorities only made up 7.3% of board members. 

These insightful statistics reveal that underrepresentation remains an ongoing issue within Life Sciences. In response, businesses are likely to make diversity and inclusion an integral part of their recruitment strategies. 

See, in today’s world, while it should be a given, creating an inclusive workspace is vital for any organisation’s success. In fact, within Life Sciences, it has been shown to boost the chances of attracting and retaining exceptional talent, yielding more innovative results, and enhancing reputations. 

Given that businesses with above-average diversity produce a larger proportion of revenue from innovation than those with below-average representation, it is unsurprising that Life Sciences companies are committing to investing in DE&I policies and adapting their talent acquisition strategies accordingly. 

While DE&I initiatives continue to evolve and an increasing number of employers actively take steps to prioritise diversity and inclusion, the future of diversity in Life Sciences recruitment only looks promising. 

If you’d like to look into diversity at the top level within Life Sciences, download our Women in Leadership in Life Sciences 2023 Report.

The Final Word

The trends and challenges shaping the Life Sciences recruitment landscape are ones that demand proactive strategies. By understanding what’s happening throughout the market and adapting their hiring approaches to suit, Life Sciences companies can continue to win top talent and maintain their competitive edge. 

With that said, despite the challenges posed by skills shortages, economic instability, and technological disruption, the Life Sciences industry remains resilient and poised for continued success.

Driving Innovation in Life Sciences Recruitment

As leaders in Pharmaceutical, Medical Technology, and Healthcare Communications recruitment, we are passionate about connecting the best and brightest candidates with our clients. We have been offering best-in-class recruitment services since 2009, ensuring that companies fill their Life Sciences jobs with the right people to inspire innovation and impact global health. 

If you want to discover more about our offerings, contact one of our award-winning consultants today.

Book in a call with one of the team about your hiring needs.

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