Market Update Q2 - Life Sciences & Private Healthcare

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By :
Natalie Drew

The private health sector – recruiting again!

Since March 2020, the majority of private hospitals were requisitioned by the NHS to increase the number of beds available for the fight against Covid.  Intended as a temporary measure, NHS use of private bed stock was due to finish towards the end of 2020. However, one lockdown after another meant a phased, easing-in approach was necessary to avoid overwhelming the NHS. Consequently, 2021 hiring got off to a slow start, with many procurement, legal and recruitment staff remaining on furlough until April 2021. But, since then, it has been all systems go! A backlog of paused projects has been revived and escalated to ‘urgent’, resulting in a boom for the private sector market.

Biotech boom

Our Biotech clients have continued to go full steam ahead with recruitment throughout the pandemic and show no signs of slowing down this quarter. A combination of increased funding and aggressive recruitment strategies over the past 12 – 24 months have kept demand high. Oncology remains a vital growth area, requiring skilled talent across the board.

Brexit and Covid put the brakes on life sciences start-ups

Many of my pre-commercial or early-stage start-up clients were due to begin their next phase of recruitment to support growth in Q4 2020 – Q1 2021. Several factors are hindering their expansion plans, including lab delays, funding delays and issues with suppliers and imports due to Brexit. To plug talent gaps left by the delay in planned permanent hiring, many start-ups have ‘made do’ - either by keeping on their outsourced partners or by utilising a loyal force of investors and shareholders on a part-time, low-cost or no-cost basis to keep the business going. Optimism prevails! The hope is that delays and issues will be resolved by Q3 – Q4 2021, enabling the hiring of much needed talent to launch even more successfully into their next phase. 

The era of the restructure

Major pharmaceutical and medical devices multi-nationals have used this time to embark on restructuring projects. We have seen departments cut, condensed and combined with others, leading to the loss of middle management layers as they try and create lean organisations, minimise costs and remain competitive.
Drugs and diabetes pumps have been pulled from the market, creating wide-spread redundancies and a rise in interviewing for new roles within the company. This has resulted in a wave of skilled candidates entering the market, on the hunt for their next challenge. 
In other areas, employees are receiving promotions as departments are merged, giving a lucky few opportunities they may have ordinarily had to wait years for. Others are feeling out of their depth because of a lack of leadership. This situation is nothing new and is a sign that more recruitment will be needed once revenues start to climb.

Vaccination programmes and rollouts

We’ve been supporting a number or clients with vaccination programme roll-outs, including healthcare charities providing ongoing training of volunteers to administer the vaccine.
Insights analysis has seen huge demand as clients ensure learnings from training programmes are continuously fed back and improvements made. Programmes to improve quality of service from nurses, care homes and hospital processes have dramatically increased during these unprecedented times, leading to increases in demand for change management, programme support and lead specialists.

Surge in technical talent demand

Projects that were put on hold have resumed, with teams of people required to get them back on schedule. We have seen an increase in data centre migration projects and demand for server engineers with VMWare and Azure expertise. 
Naturally, the need for Business Analysts, which had slowed down over the past 12 months, has picked up again. Our Charity division has also been very busy hiring technical specialists across Business Intelligence and PMO. 

How has the contractor market reacted to IR35 reforms?

After many contractors were let go last year, we saw a rise in permanent hiring, with contractors accepting permanent roles to gain stability, largely as a result of the IR35 off-payroll regulations which came into force in April 2021.
Large conglomerates are taking a cautious, risk-averse approach, moving all contracts to ‘inside IR35’ to mitigate costly mistakes. This hasn’t been a popular move with all contractors, some of whom have left contracts early in search of a new ‘Outside IR35’ contract, or to take a permanent position. Fixed-term contracts have also increased for the same reason, but low demand for these roles has meant vacancies remaining open for longer.
This shift in workforce make-up may have a temporary impact on a company’s performance, but the hope is that the market will settle down and any negative affects will be short-lived.

If you would like any further information about the topics discussed here, or are looking to hire in Life Sciences & MedTech, Private Healthcare or Charity & Not-for-profit, get in touch.


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