Volume 91 Issue 6 | p. 7 | News of The Week
Issue Date: February 11, 2013 | Web Date: February 7, 2013

Pharma Firms See A Lack Of Needed Skills

Employment: Executives say hiring is stymied by finding people with the right talents
Department: Business | Collection: Economy
Keywords: pharmaceuticals, employment, R&D, layoffs, outsourcing

After significantly downsizing their R&D operations, pharmaceutical companies thinking about expanding again say they can’t find employees with the right skills. That’s one result from a recent survey of life sciences company R&D and human resources executives by the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“Developing and managing outside partnerships and regulatory science are the two most sought-after skills today,” PwC reports. These skills have gained importance because drug company R&D increasingly uses contract research firms, outside partners, and crowdsourcing to manage costs and improve prospects for drug development.

About a third of life sciences companies have revamped their approach to R&D in the past three years, PwC found. And between 2009 and 2012, the drug industry laid off 150,000 employees.

Now, 72% of pharma executives say they intend to increase their R&D capacity in the next 12 months. However, half of them indicate that hiring has become more difficult than before, with only 28% saying they’re very confident about finding top talent.

To fix this situation, some 60% of executives plan on investing over the next three years to create a more skilled workforce. But it’s not clear whether any of that investment to fill the skills gap will go to helping those employees who were laid off.

“Companies with decades-long legacies have lost their edge due to repeated layoffs, wearing down the morale of scientific staff,” PwC says. The consulting firm suggests that company leaders should “convey a compelling mission that employees will not only accept but embrace.” At the same time, it encourages human resources staff to develop a strategy for equipping their firms with the “right mix of people and talent in R&D.”

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society
Son o' Gashira (Tue Feb 12 12:31:26 EST 2013)
"can’t find employees with the right skills" = don't have to train to do anything and will work for peanuts

"Developing and managing outside partnerships" = sending jobs to China

"regulatory science" = finding new ways to skirt the law
John Flynn (Tue Feb 12 15:21:37 EST 2013)
Is it really surprising? Those with the skills who were laid off have moved on and are unlikely to take the chance again. Those still working on degrees or in their early careers saw the layoffs and directed their studies towards better prospects. Most prospective employees will need to be trained and the ones choosing the field will be more of a gambling type willing to take a risk on their continued employment, not necessarily the best and brightest.
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