Innovative and novel drugs remain key to profitability in the life sciences industry, but the increased use of digital technologies has placed the industry in direct competition with tech companies for the same talent pool.
This heightened demand has caused life sciences companies to take a more open and fluid approach to talent, with greater utilisation of external and independent workers and partners.
We outline below major trends shaping the life sciences industry’s approach towards talent.
28% in 2015 use technology tools such as smart watches to monitor and manage their fitness and health, up from 17% in 2013.
With the aid of connected digital devices, consumers have literally at their fingertips a wealth of information about ailments and potential treatments. They are aware of the latest developments in healthcare.
This knowledge has made them more inquisitive, leading to a demand for greater and more innovative choices from diagnosis to treatment to chronic disease management.
Responding to these consumers, life sciences companies and healthcare providers feel the need to provide more information, tools and resources to empower their customers, through websites, apps and even social networks.
At the same time, advances in precision medicine are bringing the industry closer to the day when a disease can be treated according to each individual’s unique genetic makeup. According to PwC, 94% of pharma companies are investing in personalised medicine research.
This move towards personalisation will require talent in the areas of digital skills and tech support, marketing, customer service and communications, and analytics and data management, with Chief Patient Officers ensuring patients remain the centre of all their efforts.
Global R&D spending in the life sciences continues to grow, with technology as a driver. R&D efforts are focused on attacking diseases at the molecular and sub-molecular level, and on leveraging technology, engineering and other disciplines to discover new treatments, products, and services to support patients.
Key areas of innovation include the disciplines of molecular biology, genetics and genomics, biotech and biopharma, and biomechanical and biomedical engineering. Talent trained in these areas are in demand.
Innovation is also happening in the processes by which life science products are investigated, developed and brought to market. Talent with knowledge and experience in translational medicine, artificial intelligence, patient data management, drug launches, digital platforms and mHealth applications, and smart treatments or the Internet of Medical Things, will have good employment opportunities.
The ever-changing regulatory environment in the life sciences industry means legal, regulatory and compliance talent remain ever in demand. So are quality control professionals, who are the gatekeepers, rising to meet the increasingly stringent requirements of product integrity, quality and testing.
The increasingly pervasive use of digital technology from internal IT systems to customer-facing technologies means that those with cybersecurity and data protection will be needed.
Open talent approach
Because of heightened demand for a diverse range of complex skills and the intense competition for such talent, life sciences companies have taken a more open and fluid approach towards sourcing professionals with the skills they need.
This open talent approach includes outsourcing, where third party players such as contract manufacturing organisations, contract research organisations and external consultants are involved in fulfilling specialised needs.
Companies have also turned to open innovation and collaboration to fill in-house capability gaps. Greater collaboration between teams along the entire process from R&D to manufacturing to delivery is expected.
Indeed, harnessing external talent and knowledge has become critical, with a greater use of contingent workers including statement of work/project-based workers and freelancers.
To stay ahead, companies need to work with talent management providers such as KellyOCG to develop workforce strategies and talent supply chain solutions to access the right skills at the right time and for the right value.