By James Ivall

What a year. What an effort from the life science industry. Our partner companies across the world have led the charge on the pandemic response and we are so proud of the many candidates we placed who are having a huge hand in helping to return us to normality. Thank you for all your work in 2020.

Reflecting on the outlook for 2020 from last year the main concern was Brexit, the word which has dominated us for the last four years was quickly replaced by Covid-19. In this summary, I have reflected on how 2020 affected the Life Sciences sector. Speaking to pharmaceutical specialists throughout the year has allowed me to hear about evolving trends first-hand and to gain an insight into what to expect for the year ahead.

Increased Collaboration

COVID-19 will continue to promote active collaboration across businesses and industries for the benefit of the sector. We are expecting to see accelerated responses not just to COVID but also to other therapy areas. The effective new relationships hastily formed in response to the COVID pandemic have demonstrated the speed with which progress can be made.

This will be supported by the rise in readily available R&D data sharing. The hope is that this approach can be used to speed up drug development in all therapy areas. Expect to see more collaborations, reduced turnaround times, and an increase in annual new products to market. We would expect this to impact hiring within R&D primarily. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the top-level hiring for strategic positions and business growth.

With the above trend toward collaboration we will see high growth for outsourced development and manufacturing providers across the CDMO space. CDMO’s will need to improve turnaround times, increase efficiencies and expand globally to meet demand so robust production, quality and supply chain teams will be essential.  Overall, we expect to see increased hiring levels across all functions, both in the growing teams at CDMO’s and at businesses utilising their increased supplier base.

Personalised Medicine

Customised therapies offering not just treatment but potentially a cure for disease is an immensely exciting next generation for life science. Businesses in the ATMP gene and cell therapy sector saw rapid growth in 2020. There was a large amount of hiring particularly across R&D, Production and Quality and this will continue through 2021.

We are seeing an increased draw for candidates eager to join ATMP companies and become leaders in this field. This has provided challenges for companies not in this space to retain their staff, particularly those within sterile manufacturing as this is the usual gateway into ATMP. What we have seen is a loosening of hiring requirements from sterile manufacturers to consider candidates with more varied experience for interview. Companies within the non-sterile manufacturing space have relied normally on EU talent for niche requirements, particularly in Quality Assurance.

Board level respondents at leading life science companies believed that progress in this space will have the greatest effect in the life sciences industry over the next 10 years.

Biosimilars

Are we entering the golden age for biosimilars? Perhaps not quite yet but the increasing product range of more affordable biosimilar competition coupled with the financial strain from COVID has created huge demand in this space. The rise of applications for biosimilars in the US and Europe is one of the key current trends in the pharmaceutical industry.

We placed a high number of candidates across production and quality and expect to do the same in 2021. It remains to be seen how emerging economies will impact hiring as we are continuing to see the movement of development and manufacturing capabilities to locations that offer cheaper operating costs. We did see a high number of European based senior-level vacancies which managed global manufacturing hubs remotely so this trend will likely continue.

Culture

A key focus for businesses in 2021 will be the need to foster a healthy and positive working environment. Continued progress needs to be made but it feels like we moved a long way forward in in 2020.

Companies are adapting to remote working and seeing an overwhelmingly positive response from employees. The key question we hear day in, day out from prospective candidates is ‘what is the work from home policy?’. It will therefore be critical for businesses to have a strong offering in this space to attract and, more importantly, retain the best talent.

The core of everything we do is placing the best people into the best companies without bias. Diversity & Inclusion should be at the forefront of any companies hiring strategy to ensure that all candidates feel fairly treated throughout the hiring process and well supported after joining. A clear and readily accessible D&I strategy will attract the best and most diverse talent pools.

Brexit

The impacts of Brexit on the Life Science industry have been well documented so we’re not going to go over old ground here but instead focus on how hiring will be affected.

A wealth of talent introduced to the UK Life Science industry has always come from relocating EU based candidates. From 2021, EU candidates will be subject to new VISA laws meaning that businesses will need to shoulder the cost of sponsorship should they want to open to this talent pool. It will be interesting to see how the points-based system on immigration progresses, and whether we will begin to tap into new geographies for relocating candidates.

In the short to medium-term, we expect there to be less candidate availability for hiring processes and this will present challenges on turnaround times. In the long-term, we hope to see further investment into STEM education to attract the brightest minds to the life science sector and grow the UK based talent pool.

Get in Touch

James manages the European Life Sciences team at Goodman Masson and his team are specialists in placing multifunctional sector specific professionals.


James Ivall
james.ivall@goodmanmasson.com
+44 (0)207 324 0538

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