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A More Flexible Workforce is Key to Unlocking Growth in the Pharmaceutical Sector

January 12, 2018

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The UK government has recognised that having the right skills available is critical to the UK life sciences sector. The industry employs over 235,000 people acrossd the country and contributes approximately 10% to the UK's total GDP.

Numerous high-profile figures have stressed the need for the UK to remain competitive in attracting the top talent after Brexit. Allowing this talent to flow through the country through an appropriate migration policy is a suggestion that is included in Sir John Bell's August 2017 report into the life sciences sector in the UK, which recognises the fact the sector in the EU is growing at a substantial rate, increasing from a €125bn industry to €225bn over the last 15 years.

Life sciences jobs in the UK are expected to grow in the fields of gene therapy, research and development, manufacturing and supply, and bringing untapped medicines and therapies to the market. The geographical hubs that will drive this growth include the London-Stanstead-Cambridge corridor and Alderley Park in Cheshire, as well as institutions such as Liverpool Life Sciences UTC.

Companies operating in the sector face uncertainty however, not only from the future impacts of Brexit, but also from such things as automation and other disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and nanotechnologies.

James Dawson, UK Life Sciences specialist at NES Global Talent, argues that in order to meet the opportunities whilst also dealing with the future challenges, companies must create a flexible workforce to remain robust.

To do this, employers must build a team of trusted contractors that would add value by reacting quickly to market conditions, assisting with temporary projects, avoiding the associated costs of training, and help embrace opportunities quickly. Using a specialist life sciences recruitment agency can add value by utilising specialist knowledge of the recruitment market to plan and execute a hiring strategy.

James also suggests that contractual clauses for employees can be used to create a more flexible workforce. For example, a clause allowing for mobility across the country can help with shifting geographical needs, whilst a clause around annualised hours would allow employees to work reduced hours during quiet times and increased hours when productivity requirements are high.

Read the full article in PharmaTimes.