Phenomenal Growth in Singapore’s Life Sciences Industry Requires Skilled Talent in a Candidate-Short Market

Singapore’s life sciences industry is currently expanding with alacrity, and for its professionals in possession of the right skillsets, the opportunities are immeasurable. This upsurge in potential means that the talent pool is growing shallower, and for employers the greatest challenge is locating the candidates able to help them continue this expansion.
The Hays Changing Face of Life Sciences report is the result of a survey conducted with 168 working professionals from five key Asian markets and nine in-depth interviews with industry leaders. The report provides an enlightening insight into the current state of the industry, revealing what can be expected in the years to come in this ascendent industry.
The sector’s positivity has been established on a firm foundation of future-readiness, with 50 per cent of employees confidently able to describe their organisation as future-ready, the largest percentage in Asia to do so. However, that does not mean that improvement is unnecessary, and employees suggest that openness to change, (70 per cent) creating a culture of adaptability and reskilling (70 per cent) and product innovation (70 per cent) are all areas that could augment organisational future-readiness.
“It is innovation in particular that concerns employers and employees alike, with the former highlighting the risk inherent in developing products that may not interest buyers downstream. However, with governments around the world investing in upstream COVID-19 research, there is a belief that this can be adopted and extrapolated into other areas of the industry, de-risking future innovation,” says Kirsty Hulston, Regional Director at Hays Singapore. 
“This means that the sector can also address its dominant focus on headline problems such as aging population, diabetes and lifestyle-based cardiovascular issues. With upstream investment, they can put more emphasis on the smaller diseases that, though they may not be revenue generators, can help the industry migrate from majority benefits to personalisation, something that industry leaders are tipping to drive the next wave of innovation.”
With a defined sense that Singapore’s life sciences industry is attaching greater weight to these more caring aspects of healthcare, it should come as no surprise that employees are greatly motivated by deriving purpose from their work, and 95 per cent stated that this is either ‘important’ or ‘very important’, with only those in Malaysia (100 per cent) higher. In addition, Singapore’s professionals also place importance on being recognised and rewarded as well as building relationships with management and colleagues (71 and 52 per cent, respectively) both of which have grown in necessity since the onset of the pandemic.
“The most common experience that employees noted, however, was that they currently identify or agree with their company’s values. With industry leaders also highlighting their passion for operating in an industry which has such a strong sense of purpose, it is clear that those motivators are aligned,” says Kirsty
However, an alignment of interests alone is not enough to propel companies and the industry further, and the implementation of cutting-edge technology is key. Being one of the most disruptive industries with constant technological advancements, it is essential that companies have a vision mission with innovation being sparked throughout, all of which must be communicated to employees and associates. It is evident that this is the case in Singapore, as 62 per cent of Malaysia’s life sciences professionals either agreed or strongly agreed that they could be confident in their organisation’s current digitalisation journey, the highest to do so in Asia.
With such an emphasis on innovation, possessing the relevant skills becomes paramount, and though 63 per cent of professionals feel that they are in possession of the required hard skills to succeed in their role with some improvement, and 66 per cent felt likewise about their soft skills, they were the most likely in the region to say that both skillsets were insufficient (11 per cent and nine per cent, respectively).
“Though 91 per cent of employees feel that it is their own responsibility to upskill, leaders must step forward and ensure that their talent is best equipped to face the challenges of the life sciences future,” concludes Kirsty.
“In Singapore, the skills most sought after are technical, digital and soft skills, and employers are best advised to provide these. Not only are they essential in ensuring that their workforce is at the optimal level, failing to offer these developments may negatively affect talent retention, which could be a critical error in this candidate-short industry. But succeed in retaining and attracting the top-level talent, and companies can be assured of numerous opportunities, as the mood remains vibrant and further expansion is all-but guaranteed.”
An overview of other key insights that have been observed in Singapore’s life sciences industry can be viewed below:
  • Singapore’s life sciences professionals are the most confident in Asia that their organisation’s current sustainability journey is sufficiently placed to realise its goals, with 76 per cent either agreeing or strongly agreeing.
  • When joining a new workplace, 76 per cent of employees would consider digital training important, whilst 57 per cent cited ERP software.
  • Following the pandemic, remote working options have become important to 76 per cent of employees, with 71 per cent saying that their employers currently provide them.
  • As leaders note the rise in mental health issues caused by remote working, some are elevating mental wellbeing in company culture, implementing wellbeing checks, developing wellness programs and establishing wellbeing hotlines.

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the Hays Asia Changing Face of Life Sciences report


About Hays Singapore

Hays Specialist Recruitment Pte Ltd, Singapore ("Hays Singapore") is one of Singapore's leading recruitment companies in recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people across a wide range of industries and professions.

Hays has been in Singapore for over a decade and boasts a track record of success and growth. We operate across the private and public sector, dealing in permanenttemporary and contracting positions in more than 15 different specialisms, including Accountancy & Finance, Banking & Financial Services, Digital Technology, Engineering, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Information Technology, Legal, Life Sciences, Marketing & Digital, Office Professionals, Procurement, Supply Chain and Sales. Hays Singapore was named the “Best Small Workplace” in Singapore in 2019 and 2018, and was ranked fourth “Best Multinational Workplace” in Asia 2020 by Great Place to Work®.

About Hays 
Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2021 the Group employed c.10,800 staff operating from 256 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2021:
– the Group reported net fees of £918.1 million and operating profit of £95.1 million;
– the Group placed around 60,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 220,000 people into temporary roles;
– 17% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 27% in Germany, 22% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 34% in Rest of World (RoW);
– the temporary placement business represented 61% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 39% of net fees;
– Technology is the Group’s largest specialism, with 26% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (14%) and Construction & Property (12%), are the next largest
– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA