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No Small undertaking for Big Pharma

No Small undertaking for Big Pharma

With the world on tenterhooks hoping that a vaccine will be developed to prevent people becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus, the role of global pharma companies – and the talented life sciences professionals they employ – has never been more crucial.

AstraZeneca, the British multinational recently reached an agreement with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA) to supply up to 400m doses of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine at no profit. Swiss giant Novartis also committed to donating 130m doses of hydroxychloroquine to support the pandemic response.

Specialist skills in Life Sciences

According to the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), pharma giants have seen their recruitment increase significantly. This has spawned demand for a wide range of specialist skills and life sciences jobs, especially in pharma R&D for specialist clinical research associates (CRAs) or pharmaceutical scientists who work on the drug development and design process.

Another important role is that of the clinical trials pharmacist, overseeing open studies as part of the delivery of a service that has to comply with the strictest legal and ethical standards. There are also widespread opportunities for manufacturing associates, project managers and quality control supervisors.

Interestingly, the sector has become a hotbed for tech talent in wake of the widespread adoption and scaling of digital technologies. A survey carried out by Swiss multinational Novartis found that nearly half the tech professionals surveyed (49%) would consider switching to healthcare or pharma. Almost the same number (48%) were drawn to the life sciences sector because of the opportunity to solve real world problems.

Attracting top Pharma talent

Yet despite COVID-19 and the sector’s current centre stage role, the pharma industry has been impacted like so many other areas of the economy, not least when it comes to attracting the best talent. Organisations must therefore focus on their talent attraction strategies, ensuring that they offer competitive rewards and benefits packages as well as the right environment for people to fulfil their potential.

The life sciences sector is a big contributor to GDP. In California alone it provides 1.4m jobs and $372bn of economic activity in 2019. And there continues to be lots of money pumped into the pharma industry. For example, the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) will invest £1.2bn investment in a life sciences park that is planned in Croyton and which could create 2,000 jobs. Another park in Birmingham is also planned in Selly Oak.

The fight to find a vaccine for the Coronavirus will require continued investment in the right talent. And it will be these skills that will play such a pivotal part in ensuring that these companies can continue to provide the innovation and scale of drug production that will have such a critical impact on public health in the post-Pandemic world.   

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