Life sciences talent mobility – is the UK losing out?

An insights bulletin from Acacium Group

As healthcare becomes increasing global demand for the specialists who play a critical role in the next phase of ‘medicine evolution’ is at an all-time high.

The COVID-19 pandemic has unsurprisingly increased demand further, with new clinical trials opening up to stop the spread and support the treatment of the virus. For almost two decades, Acacium Group has been a major partner to the life sciences industry. Through three of our businesses, Dunn Regulatory Associates, Hobson Prior, and Proclinical, we source and place the specialist contract and permanent employees around the world, that this crucial sector needs to deliver clinical trials safely and effectively. Our experience, together with the data
generated in our business, enables Acacium Group to provide unique insights into the challenges facing the UK’s life science sector

Key Insight 1: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increase in life sciences placements globally.

  • Unsurprisingly, since the start of the pandemic, the demand for life sciences professionals has increased as more trials addressing the virus receive funding
  • From Jan 2019 – May 2021 Acacium Group placed 5,435 life sciences professionals across five continents
  • The period from Jan 2021 – May 2021 placements increased by 25% compared to the same period in 2019
  • Most of the demand was seen in Europe and North America though it was expanding in Asia and South America

Key Insights 2: More life sciences professionals are leaving
the UK rather than entering

  • Despite the UK’s reputation as a life sciences hub, our data suggests that more of these highly trained staff are leaving the UK than entering
  • Between Jan 2019 and May 2021, there were 426 placements for skilled UK professionals abroad, versus just 135 choosing to come and work in the UK: a significant ‘brain drain’ of 291 highly trained, and often irreplaceable staff
  • The gap is widening with the growth in numbers leaving the UK gaining pace. This raises the risk of strategic undersupply of key skills to support the UK’s position as a life science hub

Key Insight 3: The range of jobs leaving the UK are
both critical and widespread

  • Commercial, clinical and biometrics professionals are those most likely to be leaving the UK; professionals across these three groups amounted to 181 exiting and only 41 coming to the UK
  • Only half of the clinical professionals leaving the UK choose to return; a significant talent loss that could threaten the UK’s position as a global life sciences leader
  • Since January 2019 Acacium Group has placed 33 regulatory professionals from the UK to other global destinations We believe these professionals have been influenced by their perception of better career prospects within the EU, rather than the post-Brexit MHRA-regulated UK
  • Health economics and Outcomes Research positions are the only roles to have a positive net difference

Acacium Group: Life sciences solutions

Acacium Group’s Life Sciences division, consisting of Dunn Regulatory Associates, Hobson Prior and Proclinical, partners with global top 10 pharma companies, multinational clinical research organisations (CROs), medical device and biologics pioneers, emerging bio-pharmas and bio-techs, and global health, nutrition and cosmetics brands on a diverse range of roles across the entire life science spectrum. We placed key skills into several of the leading COVID-19 vaccine and treatment clinical trials, helping to expedite the research that will ultimately allow the world to beat this pandemic.

Our unrivalled database of screened and qualified professionals, together with our market-leading networking capabilities enables us to deliver every time, even on the toughest to fill roles across Phase I, Phase II, Phase III, post marketing surveillance and development (Phase IV). Our solutions for every client are bespoke and tailored to their individual needs.

We hope you’ve found this bulletin informative. If you would like any further information on any of its contents, or would like to discuss how we can help you with your staffing requirements, please get in touch with, alternatively you can visit our life science solutions page here