The Brexit Effect: The Fight for Life Sciences Talent

The Brexit Effect: The Fight for Life Sciences Talent

The UK is a showcase for some of the brightest and best Life Sciences talent in the world. It has world-class research facilities and academic institutions as well as being home to an exciting array of top pharma and life sciences organisations. It has long been recognised as a leader in the life sciences world, making ground-breaking advances in emerging fields like genomics. A knowledge hub where many of the top minds from the EU and around the globe have sought to make their mark. And then along came Brexit. A seismic political event that has shaken the industry at every level, creating uncertainty for organisations and EU citizens working or planning to work in the UK. 

But what will be the reality of Brexit for employers looking to connect with the best life sciences candidates across the EU? And is the competition for the best talent already heating up?

In our previous blog we discussed The Post Brexit Talent Challenge. Today we will take a closer look at the Brexit effect below and explore some of the reasons that the outlook for Life Sciences talent may be brighter than you think.


The Uncertainty Conundrum

One of the pressing problems faced by life sciences organisations is the lack of clarity around the impact of Brexit both on research opportunities and for workers. It seems that March 2019 will be the deadline for the UK’s messy divorce but as yet no deal has been struck between the UK and the European Union. This unprecedented scenario has left businesses preparing for a future where nothing is certain.

It’s not clear how Brexit will affect EU citizens working in life sciences but given the significance of the sector to the economy, it’s likely the government will do all it can to enable access to skilled talent. In the interim, the industry is seeing reluctance from life sciences professionals to take a leap of faith on Brexit, with a reduction in EU citizens applying for skilled life sciences jobs based in the UK. Some organisations are also voting with their feet. The European Medical Agency notably relocated from London to Amsterdam as a direct result of Brexit.   


A Race For The Best Talent

We know that the STEM industry is in the grip of a talent shortage. Now, with the introduction of Brexit into the equation, UK-based life sciences organisations are experiencing a tougher fight for EU talent than ever before. With a smaller candidate pool and higher levels of competition, they are having to refine and improve their approach to attracting the best talent around. And this may be a very good thing indeed. Organisations are having to think harder about candidate engagement, build more robust pipelines and invest in their existing people. The prestige of being a UK life sciences organisation is no longer enough. Businesses must build a strategic and creative approach, thinking innovatively to win the battle for talent in a post-Brexit world.


A Truly Global Industry 

The conversation around Brexit and life sciences often overlooks an important detail. This is a truly global industry with talent coming not only from the EU but from India, Korea, the US and any number of life sciences hotspots around the world. Even if UK businesses find their access to EU talent stifled there remains a huge pool of talented candidates to explore. It may take a slightly different mindset and sourcing strategy, but the international talent market is waiting to be tapped.   


Promoting Homegrown STEM Talent

There is a lack of young people entering STEM. It’s a scenario that is driving us towards an even greater skills shortage. Brexit may give organisations the push they need to invest more strongly in homegrown talent. To get into schools and engage with students before they enter degree level study. To become a real option for those groups who have traditionally been woefully underrepresented in the sector. A chance to grow a fruitful and diverse STEM future before it’s too late.

There is also a risk that the focus on Brexit will see organisations hurriedly pursuing EU talent at the expense of domestic candidates. This is a mistake. Businesses must create a balanced talent pipeline that includes homegrown talent as well as highly skilled international candidates.

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These are uncertain times. But with the challenge of Brexit comes an opportunity for life sciences organisations to step up their talent game. Are you ready?