A May 2021 report published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, reveals the employment projections and trends for various occupations. The report indicates that employment in life, physical and social sciences will grow up to 5% between 2019 to 2029 which is faster than the growth rate of all other occupations. It will, therefore, create 68,200 new jobs.
The report also shows that the median annual wage ($69,760) for these occupations is higher than others ($41,950). Such expansion can be best related to the pandemic-led increased demand for health care products and services, the emergence of radically new concepts including tech trends, and advanced inpatient care.
Knowing that the digital transformation is quicker than any other time due to Covid-19, future-thinking healthcare leaders shall think differently concerning the factors of production including talent.
How Will the Life Sciences Industry Continue to Evolve?
More than ever, the life sciences industry has steadily embraced the digital workforce including the combination and application of Automation, AI, Machine-learning, etc. But many a time, companies get mired at the pilot stage only; due to their unrealistic expectations, technology-related challenges, the complexity of processes, and skill gap. Further, inadequate infrastructure also stops them from deploying technology within the team and achieving the benefits of a fully integrated techno-enabled workforce.
One belief that productivity will nosedive if people are not in the office has already been interrogated rigorously since the pandemic necessitated remote working. Another view is that technology and use cases are to be prioritized, not the people or talent. However, to be effective, top leaders must defer and drop such self-limiting views to forge ahead.
As per McKinsey, in the next 10 to 15 years, the demand for technical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills is likely to increase up to one-third. It indicates that skills like adaptability, continuous learning, ability to communicate are going to be critical for success along with data engineering, critical thinking, and decision-making abilities.
Signaling towards the future of work in the life science industries, one of the major challenges would be bridging the widening skill gap. As technology has reshaped the traditional relationship between the industry and its consumer, it underpins that the human workforce needs to be agile, engaged, and non-threatened to weigh up across the times.
Addressing the Skill Gap in the Life Sciences Industry
To continue delivering growth, innovation, and excellence, life science business-based companies shall make a skill-shift, as indicated below:
1. Digital, Statistical, and Financial Literacy
Essentially, companies shall acknowledge the growing spectrum of digital capabilities of the workforce and enable its workforce to adapt and retain it fast. There are reported gaps in data science skills including technical, digital, and experts with computational and laboratory skills. Life Sciences companies need to upskill their workforce and enhance their capacities to deal with technology, wider databases, and promote their familiarisation through bespoke training modules.
2. Communication Skills
Another most effective way to stay competitive and upfront is through one’s ability to communicate. Importantly, weightage to this skill must be pair with digitalization, remote working, and regular new advances in medical technologies. For instance, engaging the audience with the right content and expression is required for all fields. And, particularly during and post-pandemic, people want to stay more updated and informed about developments in healthcare than before.
3. Leadership Skills
In the Life Sciences industry, sector leadership and technical skills (such as research, analysis, project management, etc.) are the most demanded skills. Companies shall fine-tune various leadership and management roles and address skill shortages as per the area. For instance, leadership role in protein sciences or virology.
4. Research and Commercialisation Skills
Another push led by a pandemic is in the research and innovation field followed by the ability to commercialize it. Companies shall increase time, space to align the skill pipeline with the talent pipeline and break down the artificial walls between academic research and industry. It will help them to arrive at some ground-breaking research while also creating revenues.
Additionally, the skill updates shall reflect the technological and regulatory changes, in particular:
- Updates on advances of the manufacturing industry (for instance chemical processes, health equipment manufacturing, etc.), their accessibility, and utility online.
- Broader knowledge of disruptive technologies like AI, Automation, etc.
- Understanding of regulatory compliances, industry requirements, and their application.
- Sector-specific knowledge of data science to ideate and reflect data-driven decision-making.
Furthermore, companies can bridge the talent gap by increasing cross-disciplinary working teams- of course, after developing a few ‘intangible’ skills. Meanwhile, futuristic leaders shall also plan and enable skill transferring from the older generation to the newer generation wherein technology can aid. The sector shall promote itself as an attractive career option, clear the entry and promotion routes, and deliver professional development.
More, well-planned strategies and their active implementation can certainly ensure a skilled and committed workforce that is the best fit for this industry of the future.