If you were to look at any list of most resilient sectors, life sciences would be near the top. We examine the most in demand skills in an industry that is very much in demand.
Given the importance of the work that’s gone into unearthing a Covid vaccine and the rolling out of vaccination programmes not to mention the demand for healthcare workers to cope with the ever rising number of patients, that isn’t altogether surprising. Recent figures published the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSco) revealed that hiring in the UK was up 2.7% year on year for the Life Sciences profession. The Science Industry Partnership’s (SIP) Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy report found that some 133,000 jobs to be created in the UK will require specialist knowledge in areas such as medtech (medical technologies) and biopharma.
Consider BioNTech, the Mainz headquartered German biotech company that developed a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine in under a year. The company relies on many different skill sets in multiple business areas, its life sciences job openings across its R&D, Analytics R&D, Clinical Research R&D functions. Sought after roles include scientists in drug stabilisation and engineering, biochemistry and molecular immunology to list but a few. Many of these roles require PhDs in relevant science subjects.
Demand for digital and data in Life Sciences
But it’s not just within the more specialised scientific disciplines where there is demand for talent in life sciences. Multinational pharma companies such as Pfizer (which has of course partnered with BioNTech to develop, test and manufacture the vaccine) have been looking to boost their digital capabilities. The pandemic has accelerating digital transformation plans with giants such as Novartis forging partnerships with the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Chinese technology giant, Tencent.
This has also heightened the need to hire specialist experts in fields such as AI and machine learning. This is having an impact across many areas, from diagnosis of illnesses to laboratory research, expediting drug development as well as providing insights into patient behaviours and health outcomes. Data science and data analytics expertise is also key in analysing DNA, biomedical data in drug discovery and genomics and in improving trial design and disease identification.
And let’s not forget soft skills. In life sciences, professionals will need to possess first class communication skills, whether verbal or written (in the production of research papers, for example). Presentation skills are also important. There are many other attributes, such as being a good team player and adept problem solver. Leaders must also demonstrate their agility while empathy is of course an absolute must when dealing with patients and people.
The life sciences sector has been thrust into the spotlight like never before and it will have a key role to play for many years to come. Not only a significant contributor to the economy and jobs, the meaningful and life-saving nature of its work is sure to attract a new cohort of jobseekers and STEM graduates.