Jennifer Navan - Associate Director Cpl, Life Sciences division
Jenny is an Associate Director in Cpl responsible for the Science, Engineering, Construction and Supply Chain divisions.
With over 12 years experience in the Recruitment industry, Jenny has an acute understanding of the market which enables her to reach the needs of both her clients and candidates.
Life Sciences sector assessment
The Life Sciences sector has seen explosive growth over the past year, with some of the biggest names in pharmaceuticals expanding their footprint in Ireland. To keep up with this growth, hiring managers need to ensure their student placement programmes are fit for a flexible work environment and they must allow current employees to continue to choose where they work from, wherever possible.
Growth over the past year
With over 160firms and more than 24,000 employees, Ireland’s Life Sciences sector continues to grow from strength to strength. The past year has seen exponential growth, with almost all major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies adding additional headcount. This recruitment is generally for highly-skilled roles, including chemical engineers, or microbiologists, as eight of the world’s largest medical device companies have operations in Ireland, with a huge focus on R&D.
Much of this growth has been in the planning pipeline, for example, ’MSD is building a new manufacturing facility at their Dunboyne campus, which will create an additional 140 new jobs by 2025. This expansion is on top of the addition alone hundred employees MSD added this year. The company is looking to close the gap between Research and Manufacturing by expanding at their current facility outside of Dublin.
On the other hand, Pfizer, reacting to external conditions, announced an additional $40 million investmentto its’ Grange Castle facility in May 2021, resulting in 75 new jobs. This is a direct result of the decision to bring the manufacturing of the COMIRNATY Covid vaccine to Ireland.
Other companies including Medtronic and Abbott have also seen an increase in business activity as they produce ventilators, nebulisers and reagents for PCR tests, all essential in the fight against Covid.
What is attractive about the Life Sciences industry for 2022
As the industry continues to thrive and expand in Ireland, we are seeing a correlation with universities. Like last year, we continue to see an increase in students pursuing STEM subjects at 3rd level. This is a major focus for attracting continued investment and ensuring that Ireland remains in a strong position to keep up with growing talent demands in the space. Students did face some issues entering work placements due to the pandemic; however, many companies have adapted to the ongoing work restrictions and there are now some very specialised apprenticeships rolling out. The success of these programmes will help fuel future developments. The focus on graduates is a sure-fire way to future proof the industry’s talent needs. However, in the short-term demand is growing, with Quality Assurance Specialists, Regulatory Affairs Managers, and Technology Affairs Specialists in short supply. One of the unique and inviting aspects of Ireland’s Life Science’s sector, is the even spread of roles across the country. The bulk of roles sit in Leinster, 45% but the midlands have 25% of all operations, with the remaining 30% spread across the remaining regions.
What are the key issues facing the Life Sciences industry in 2022
As with all sectors, flexibility and remote working have come to the fore over the past 12 months. The desire for increased flexibility among employees has had an impact on hiring and general talent movement in the market over the past number of months. Due to the pandemic, working remotely became the norm, something which had never been considered before, especially in the Life Sciences sector. This flexibility has been viewed positively by many employees, who feel their work-life balance has improved and are reluctant to give up this new way of working. However, as many employers now eye a planned return to the workplace, staff, and in particular new entrants, who have mostly had a work from home experience, are not welcoming this change. In some areas, for example, QA and Compliance employees who are currently fully remote and have not been given a return to the office plan, are less likely to be looking for new opportunities and are sticking with their current role. Employers who have laid out a clearly defined return to workplace policy, which is not meeting employee wants, are more likely to be job seekers. However, many are adopting a “wait and see” approach. As Government return to work plans are pushed out, they are allowed their companies time to reassess the need for them to fully return to the office before they decide to pursue a role with a more friendly work-life balance. This general dovish behaviour is slowing down recruitment in some areas, but once larger companies set out their long-term flexible work plans and others follow, we expect a good bit of churn as employees start to look for workplaces more suited to their needs.
What critical skills do companies need to develop for success in 2022
Hiring managers cannot overemphasise just how important flexibility and attitudes towards work-life balance has become when looking to recruit highly skilled in-demand staff. In all cases, this is the first issue potential new employees are asking about, even before discussing salary. This is a global, as well as local phenomenon. An EY surveycarried out in Spring 2021 shows that 9 out of 10 respondents want flexibility in when and where they work. In-demand candidates are also being lured with increased learning and development opportunities, increased salaries, and share options for the multinationals, which make up 40% of the industry.
The companies that are most successful at hiring right now, in this highly competitive, candidate-driven, marketplace, are the ones that recognise the value of trusting employees and allowing them flexibility in where and how they work.