Despite the overall growth of the biopharmaceutical industry, talent shortages remain a problem across organizations from product manufacturing to research and development. According to Mears, shortages have occurred because the industry has failed to keep pace with the changes that people are seeking in their careers.
More often than not, Mears said, managers enter the hiring process without a strategy for communicating with prospective candidates. Companies can improve their hiring processes by marketing themselves appropriately and ensuring that they are attractive employers to top candidates. Managers also tend to prioritize recruiting candidates based on their skills and technical abilities. Doing so may meet job requirements, but it fails to account for the cultural fit and value alignment of new hires. The high rate of turnover within the industry is predominantly attributable to companies neglecting those important factors, Mears suggested.
The cell and gene therapy (CGT) space in particular is new and evolving, having introduced complex molecules and methodologies. The associated economic risks can be scary for potential workers who do not have experience in the field. Businesses are learning to adapt by developing their own talent, training workers who have base-level knowledge but may lack certain technical qualifications upon entering their positions. The business strategy of recruiting people from other companies isn’t enough to fill gaps industry gaps, Mears emphasized. Hiring managers must take a multifaceted approach.
Biopharmaceutical companies also compete with organizations in other industries that are hiring from the same talent pool for jobs in data science, for instance. But broadening the talent horizons can be helpful. Mears said that some companies have found success in hiring people from military and food-manufacturing backgrounds. Companies can develop such hires through a pipeline that includes 12- to 24-week training programs and by supporting continuing education.
Over the long term, a healthy talent pool depends on education that starts years before hiring begins. Mears said that governments can and should support science education in schools. Some companies already commit resources to elementary schools to cultivate an early interest in science.
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