Accessability Links

Mind the experience gap…

11 Sep 13 - 12:00AM Skills Alliance  | Malcolm Silander blog

Alex Ferguson once said "When you give young people a chance, you not only create a longer life span for the team, you also create loyalty. They will always remember that you were the manager who gave them their first opportunity."

The pharmaceutical and life science world is experiencing a skill shortage.  To gain an edge in a competitive industry companies are striving to hire the most talented people, but to ‘guarantee’ this advantage many prefer to recruit experienced individuals rather than invest in training those with potential. Common to many industries this is even more pronounced in the highly technical fields of Life Sciences, creating an experience gap with a perceived scarcity of skilled candidates and similarly depressing candidate view of companies not recruiting.


The Impact

Your organisation is in competition with similar companies for people to fill these roles. This creates a pool of experienced individuals that are in the position where they are highly sought after, creating the perceived shortage and an unnatural pay bubble. How many other industries can point to multiple areas of work (Quality, Regulatory, Medical and HEOR) that have experienced continual salary rises throughout the last 5 years of economic struggles?  With multiple companies ‘chasing’ the same candidate the result is that time and resources are wasted.  The natural law of supply and demand means that money that could be invested in training is being spent on inflated salaries, and dare I say recruitment fees, in a supposedly ever decreasing talent pool.

A preference for hiring experienced candidates and a reluctance to train graduates, or those less experienced, can be short sighted and potentially damaging for your company. Loyalty and quality can be better produced by creating training schemes and encouraging people to join your company who have the right attitude and soft skill sets which can be developed into hard skills.

Unless this situation is addressed organisations will continue to pay higher salaries and fees or have to source candidates with relevant skills set from outside the established employment markets of the UK, US and Europe, turning to the emerging markets and in particular Asia. There is the further potential problem of steering UK graduates away from pharmaceutical related degrees, further reducing the future talent tool.

The Solution

Can Life Sciences look to other industries? One of the big 6 energy companies, arguably not a sector renowned for exciting roles, use their training program to give graduates scope to have speciality in not just one area but to learn about all aspects of the energy industry, giving them a strong base of knowledge to develop. Some of the multinationals do have well regarded graduate schemes in the pharmaceutical industry, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca to name two. Could this be expanded to experienced employees or even developed into collaboration across businesses?

Beyond graduate level, what companies can genuinely point to a world leading training scheme not constrained to simply ‘doing their current job better’? Broad programmes can increase employee engagement, develop business loyalty, commercial awareness and ultimately develop staff to increased levels of performance and ready them for promotion. If it worked for Sir Alex Ferguson…

Where are you in your career? Are you stuck in a role with no view of your future progression? Are you an employee that can’t justify training budgets? Or a hiring manager having to fight for the small number of ‘hit-the-ground-running’ suitable people available? Let us know your thoughts on it all, we’d love to hear them.