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Science Recruitment in 2022

The scientific recruitment market has seen some huge changes over the past few years, with covid concerns and technologies bringing both challenges and massive investment into the industry. In this article I take a look at the outlook for 2022, the factors influencing the state of the market and the changes that have rippled through the industry over the past few years.

Will the scientific job market be slowing down in 2022?

The UK recruitment market reached an all-time high at the end of 2021, and moving into 2022 it doesn’t seem to be letting up, especially not in the scientific industries. It’s safe to say the past few years have been turbulent for everyone. Across the Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology & Medical Device sectors we have experienced a number of changes that have affected the recruitment market – from investment trends to the long-term impact of the pandemic. With everything we have seen so far, it doesn’t seem that 2022 will be any less busy than previous years.

2021 was a strong year for biotech investment – The UK attracted significant and unprecedented global investment in the Life Science and more specifically, the Biotechnology industry across 2021. A lot of this has been as a result of UK-based businesses developing next generation therapies and advanced technologies that will be key to improving healthcare outcomes globally.

As we move into 2022 this investment will continue to impact recruitment in the field. As this investment is used to scale organisations and bring in talent to support and drive resource to the development of their technologies, the volume of roles will increase dramatically. These roles will be varied in nature, often requiring niche skills and potentially drawing in skilled individuals from international markets and academic institutions.

The Continued Rise of Covid-related Roles

Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen a number of covid-related roles be released onto the jobs market. In 2020 we saw a lot of businesses divert their focus away from product development or innovation and move into covid testing, often seconding existing staff with additional temporary recruitment. This meant new laboratories working in private testing and an increase in businesses developing lateral flow and PCR-based testing kits.

Across H2 2020 and into 2021 a number of Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology organisations also set up in-house testing facilities to allow them to re-open operations and keep their staff safe by deploying site wide testing programmes. We also saw businesses in other sectors branch into healthcare, global organisations establishing their own in-house testing for their staff, with even businesses such as Amazon developing their own at-home testing kits.

With the generation of these new facilities and the realisation of the long-term nature of the pandemic, a large volume of permanent and contract roles in the field of covid testing came through the market. This had and is still having a huge impact on the recruitment market, with demand for PCR based experience increasing, specifically RT-PCR.

Further to this, graduates have been recruited in large numbers into entry level, low-skilled roles in covid testing labs. This has meant graduates are entering the workplace on often high salaries given the shift work and importance of the covid testing operations. This has a had a knock-on impact on businesses looking to recruit these candidates, often salary expectations are out of line with the rest of the industry, reducing the candidate pools for these non-covid related operations.

Fluidity within the Job Market

As the market continues to thrive, confidence in business capability and operations increases and candidates are more confident in moving on to new roles. This means staff retention will need to be a focus for businesses and those with niche skills may be able to demand higher packages if they were to move on.

Flexibility and Home-Working

It would be preposterous to talk about the job market in 2022 and not discuss the importance of home-working. In the science industries the topic is reasonably contentious when a number of roles cannot be done remotely given the laboratory/production based nature of many positions. For roles where flexible working and/or home working is available candidates are treating this as a priority and individuals are making the decision to move on purely to find the flexibility they desire.

Given the various factors at play, 2022 will be a buoyant year for the scientific job market and as a trusted recruitment partner to a number of leading businesses globally in these sectors Jackson Hogg is expecting to be busier than ever!