Report says tech talent is hard to find

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Randstad Sourceright’s 2022 life sciences and pharma Talent Trends report finds a third of C-suite and human capital leaders in the life sciences and pharmaceuticals sector say talent scarcity is a major pain point for the sector, which is hiring extensively this year. 

With demand for life sciences products expected to grow faster than the global GDP in the next few years, 45% of those same talent leaders say the main reason they are looking to hire is to prevent talent scarcity from slowing their business.

Randstad Sourceright’s research includes the views of more than 900 human capital and C-suite leaders in 18 markets.

As a recession-proof business and one of the few sectors which saw its employment base expand during the pandemic, COVID-19 contributed to skyrocketing demand for a broad variety of technology skills in the life sciences. 

Organizations have seen demand for data scientists grow as they work to bring new innovations to market. At the same time, life sciences businesses are increasingly competing with the IT and communications sector for engineers and other tech skills as they work to develop new vaccine and diagnostic technologies. Many of these companies are refocusing on other areas of development in emerging fields like bioinformatics and medtech, which will require high-demand tech talent to execute.

“The life sciences and pharmaceuticals sector faced tremendous pressure to deliver life-saving innovations during the pandemic, and they rose to the challenge,” said Mike Smith, global CEO of Randstad Sourceright. 

“Now, the need for medical innovation has only grown, forcing organizations to compete across all industries for a limited supply of in-demand tech talent. Failing to win the race for those skills will be costly, but a strong focus on the talent experience; offering purposeful workplace culture; maximizing flexibility; and investing in diversity, equity and inclusion can help companies stand out. Reskilling and upskilling talent will also be essential to combat talent scarcity and demonstrate how much organizations value their people.”

Filling positions

The report says the number of open roles for high-skilled talent is rising rapidly, due in large part to the widening skills gap in the life sciences sector. In fact, it takes 105 days on average to fill a non-executive position in the U.S. life sciences sector, resulting in a loss of $500 a day. 

The growing skills gap threatens further progress, making smart talent strategies essential to setting life sciences and pharma organizations on the path to innovation.

Improving diversity

Creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce is one area in need of improvement in the life sciences sector. While 60% say that workplace diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts are fundamental to attracting, engaging, and retaining talent, just 41% say their hiring practices supported their diversity goals last year, the lowest among all sectors surveyed. At the same time, 63% of life sciences and pharma leaders believe DEI are important to candidates — also the lowest percentage of surveyed sectors.

Another key strategy to help life sciences firms address both the growing skills gap and increased competition for talent involves a commitment to upskilling current employees. 

“Our research shows that 67% of life sciences and pharma leaders report that reskilling current employees for different roles has been effective in addressing talent shortages,” said Smith. 

“It also has the added benefit of showing employees how much the organization values them. So it’s not surprising we see investments in internal mobility platforms growing, with 63% of leaders already investing in these platforms, and 53% saying they will be investing more in this area.”

Other observations

To prevent talent scarcity from impacting their business, more than half (55%) of human capital leaders in the life sciences and pharma sector plan to hire extensively this year.

The report also notes 77% of life sciences and pharma leaders say their organizations are more focused on the talent experience than ever before.

Life sciences and pharma employers are tapping into alternative talent pools, with 57% investing in talent marketing for temporary staff and 73% investing in talent marketing for freelancers and independent contractors.

Randstad Sourceright’s “2022 Talent Trends: life sciences & pharma” report can be downloaded here.

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