2 minute read 6 Nov 2019
Teenage Student in Chemistry Lab

Clear strategies to tackle skills shortage

By

Nicola Pidgeon

EY UK&I Scotland Private Mid-Market Assistant Director

Experienced Private Mid-Market specialist. Focused on helping clients across Scotland to unlock their ambition. Passionate about family businesses and entrepreneurship. Working mum.

2 minute read 6 Nov 2019

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Scotland is at the forefront of the UK’s life sciences secto

The region has had the highest number of start-ups in the last five years, a 50 per cent increase in the number of companies and a four-fold increase in investment’.

We have three winning elements: world class academic research, abundance of talented entrepreneurs and the NHS and its data.

Although positive, we need to continue to think differently about how to grow, scale up and implement new ideas. One model which helps ambitious leaders is the EY 7 Drivers of Growth - people, technology, operations, customer, finance, transactions and risk.

People as a growth driver in life sciences

The size of the opportunity in life sciences is huge. The workforce comprises more than 30,000 people, with vacancies accounting for an additional 5% of the sector’s employment in Scotland. This is only set to grow with estimates indicating the sector will require additional people by 2027.

Forecast demand for people in Scotland’s life sciences sector

2,900

additional people estimated to be required by 2027.

However, there are recruitment challenges for the sector, including a skills shortage in five key areas: engineering, digital, regulatory and compliance, bio-manufacturing and commercial.

This is further compounded by political uncertainty, with highly-skilled EU nationals opting to leave the UK for other international markets. To capitalise on the opportunities, it’s imperative Scotland invests in skills development.

In addition to developing our homegrown talent pool, there needs to be a clear strategy for Scottish businesses to attract and retain people amid fierce global competition. People-centred organisations have shown to outperform others, meaning life sciences companies must put employee, customer and patient experience at the heart of their agenda.

How does the people agenda impact transactions?

As the industry continues to grow through investment and M&A, the people agenda also remains a key consideration in raising finance and executing transactions.

Credibility of management and track record underlines everything. You need to know your product, customers, suppliers, challenges and the opportunities. You must put yourself in the shoes of the investor and stand out from the hundreds of pitches they see every year.

What’s your story? Great storytelling is a huge factor in investment and will be the defining factor to make them remember you and invest. As well as selling your story, you need to understand who you are speaking to in the simplest sense. Get to know them as people. Everyone has a different social style and you should use that information to moderate your behaviour and make that person more comfortable.

Depending on who your stakeholder is, put their needs first to build that relationship. If it’s investors, find out who they are, their criteria and what other investments they have. If it’s funders, such as banks, think about what’s important to them – will they get their money back? If it’s customers, get to know them and treat them well.

From a wider scale you should also consider how much time and focus you put into your brand and culture. If you don’t focus on the right values, purpose and culture, you will not attract and retain talent, and this is a factor which investors spot from the starting line.

Taking a holistic view

Successful business leaders take a holistic view and focus on different aspects of their company at various stages of growth. The EY 7 Drivers of Growth framework provides a platform to identify the key strategies for your business.

People and transactions are central themes for many businesses operating in life sciences in Scotland, but this will evolve as the market adapts and other growth drivers will come into sharper focus.

Our online platform, EY Velocity, provides full access to self-assess your business and refine your own strategies.

Summary

The people aspect is a significant growth driver in the Life Sciences sector, with various future trends impacting Scotland's life sciences industry. You must consider how much focus you put into your brand, culture, values and purpose so you can attract and retain talent. 

About this article

By

Nicola Pidgeon

EY UK&I Scotland Private Mid-Market Assistant Director

Experienced Private Mid-Market specialist. Focused on helping clients across Scotland to unlock their ambition. Passionate about family businesses and entrepreneurship. Working mum.