Life Sciences look to interims to deliver ambitions
The UK is a global leader in life sciences – supported by the combined strengths of a thriving science community and a network of world class universities. It is also a major employer and contributor to GDP. But, with the life sciences industry tightly-integrated with Europe, the Brexit vote may challenge its growth ambitions.
The Government’s Industrial Strategy has championed life sciences. Sir John Bell’s report provided key recommendations to the Government that could help drive the industry’s growth. Those recommendations focus on developing advanced research programmes, reinforcing the UK’s science offering, creating the right infrastructure for growth, exploring greater NHS collaboration, the role of data and building the right talent pool.
The skills agenda, which was set out as a core pillar of the UK’s national Industrial Strategy, will be the key enabler to growth in the sector.
However, for a sector that is reliant on a broad and deep knowledge base, and a ready supply of highly-educated and experienced scientists from around the world, Brexit presents a hurdle. There are concerns that the departure from the EU will disrupt that supply as the perception of working and living in the UK is compromised, let alone any potential changes to immigration policies.
The lack of visibility over future workforce supply has reiterated the importance of nurturing our own talent domestically, but also making the most of the pool of professionals we already have in the UK.
For many, at least in the short term, that means turning to the interim market. We’ve seen demand steadily rise following the Referendum.
An emerging factor within the market has been a specialist skills gap. However, a more fundamental issue is the growing concern over trading conditions and the threat of changes to regulation and Government policy. Therefore, business leaders could be looking for more flexible options.
In particular, professionals with experience in overseeing and driving change within a business to keep up with external market conditions.
It’s too early to tell whether this will be a long-term trend. However, it is clear that there are some specialist roles emerging for interim executives. These include positions that focus on transforming supply chains and procurement operations.
In the pharmaceutical sector we see demand for interims who can oversee integration and implementation as part of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, which create a streamlined data system for all functions of an organisation to use. The technology behind such systems requires professionals with change programme management experience – and the race to secure such individuals is becoming increasingly competitive.
Advances in the biotech and medtech industries are also driving demand for individuals with specialist skills and product-based innovation experience.
These roles reflect just some of the pressure points being felt in life sciences. Flexible recruitment options are providing some welcome relief and the chance to bring in quality expertise and experience to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing businesses today.
Unfortunately, there is a limited pool of interim talent and it isn’t just domestic businesses looking to access it. Foreign companies are also looking to UK markets, taking advantage of the nation’s rich expertise in the sector.
Change is in the air and there is an imminent need for businesses to respond and evolve their operations. Thankfully, leaders now appreciate that any response must be grounded in a solid people strategy. Interims are becoming more widely recognised as a means to access the necessary skills to build stronger businesses for the future.