Among life sciences companies, one topic comes up regularly — we can’t recruit enough skilled people easily. The UK Government estimates the sector will need at least 150,000 more workers.
In 2021, the Government launched the Research & Development People and Culture Strategy. It sets out the ambition to build the research and innovation workforce the UK needs and stresses the importance of a positive and inclusive culture. To match ambitions for R&D, they estimate the sector will need at least an additional 150,000 people by 2030 to sustain the UK’s target of 2.4% research and development intensity.
Workforces need skilled researchers and innovators
The conversations about the struggle to recruit and retain talent are not just about post-doctoral researchers but all levels from technicians to departmental heads. Mark Soave, the chair of the Early Careers Professionals (ECP) group in the European Laboratory Research and Innovation Group (ELRIG), says: “There is a lack of awareness about the spectrum of careers available within life sciences.”
There is a perception that science equals research in the lab, and the ECP group has addressed this with a series of webinars looking at other roles including medical writing, scientific communications, project and product management, sales and marketing, to name a few.
There is a lack of awareness about the spectrum of careers available within life sciences.
Promoting diversity in life sciences
We, at not-for-profit company ELRIG, are proactive in our position on equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) in the life sciences. For example, when arranging events, we promote gender and racial equality, aiming to give a platform to those who may have struggled to get opportunities to present and network in the past.
Director Clare Viney explains: “ELRIG has a unique position in the sector. We promote equality by welcoming everyone to all our events; and we are inclusive, by ensuring all are able to attend and that our events represent the diversity of our community.”
Providing people with diverse role models and mentors throughout their academic studies — from A levels onward — and careers will help us move forward to support innovation with informed, motivated and skilled talent. Finding out about the breadth of techniques, disciplines and research areas at one event broadens the horizons of life sciences. This way, we expand opportunities for sparking new ideas, valuable networking and collaborative conversations.