MilliporeSigma: Talent shortages will remain an ongoing issue in 2022

Talent retention and attraction will be the biggest challenge firms face in 2022, says MilliporeSigma’s head of Process Solutions Andrew Bulpin.

Talent shortages in the biopharma space have been globally reported with professionals forming a general consensus that the industry’s growth does not match the amount of talent coming through.

While certain countries like Lithuania claim it has a talent pool ready and waiting, other global companies such as LonzaSwedenBIO, pharma recruitment firm Lead Candidate, and Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult expressed their talent shortage concerns at different points last year.

Image: Andrew Bulpin, MilliporeSigma’s head of Process Solutions.

And it seems there will not be any relenting in 2022, according to MilliporeSigma’s Andrew Bulpin, who told BioProcess Insider “Talent attraction and retention will become THE biggest challenge to executing business growth strategies in our industry.”

To tackle this issue, the firm has launched a campaign entitled “Move with MilliporeSigma” where it is recruiting across the US for different manufacturing facilities. According to Bulpin, the program casts a wide net for talent and gives candidates an opportunity to begin a career with MilliporeSigma and move to where its facilities are located.

“Companies where people feel valued, recognized, and have a strong sense of belonging will be successful in retaining current employees while attracting future talent,” said Bulpin.

“We believe key themes in this employee day-to-day experience are onboarding, empowerment, growth, and development. Sustainability; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and flexible ways of working are key factors as well.”

COVID-19 as a catalyst

“As we see the industry’s overall growth, driven by the pandemic and by the advancement and acceleration of new modalities, we expect a further shortage of talent,” Bulpin said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has steered the activity of numerous companies and prompted a period of rapid growth for the market – particularly in mRNA vaccines and therapeutics.

For example, Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna have continued to invest in mRNA platforms following their vaccine successes. Meanwhile, Seqirus, known in the influenza space through its portfolio of products, including both egg-based and cell-based vaccines, stepped up its efforts to develop a flu vaccine based on mRNA in August 2021. And even MilliporeSigma through its parent company Merck KGaA has strengthened its mRNA offerings through the $780 million acquisition of CDMO Exelead this month.

Bulpin said the emergence of particular modalities “Bring the bioprocessing and biosafety testing spaces even closer to healthcare/biotech industries and, in many areas, we will be competing for the same talent.”

While the pandemic has caused further talent shortages, Bulpin said “New ways of working will continue to evolve and work from home or hybrid models will likely become the norm, also creating global employment opportunities due to the “borderless” nature of remote working. This is probably one of the few positive societal outcomes of the pandemic.”