2018 Trends for Scientific Professionals
What workforce trends can scientists expect to see through the end of 2018? Trends that were set in motion several years ago will continue to impact the market, while new developments will bring disruption to the kind of scientific skills employers will need.
Greater role of artificial intelligence (AI)
Organizations in the science industries including life sciences, farming, food, and oil and gas are using innovative technologies to enhance their thinking and give their scientists better starting points and better chances of success. As such, the increasing adoption of AI and machine learning is more about enhancing the work than replacing the expertise of human scientists. However, there will be a shift in the types of skills that will be in demand, as scientists will have to know how to leverage AI to their advantage. This development will also create more jobs, especially in the areas of advanced predictive analytics and data science experience.
For example, many pharmaceutical companies are creating specialized research units to enhance their drug discovery processes using AI and deep learning. Scientists are harnessing machine learning to develop medicines more quickly with higher precision and quality. AI also applies in the food industry, where there’s a growing need for talent that can work with AI just like in the pharmaceutical industry, or in consumer-oriented platforms.
Changing recruitment dynamic in the oil and gas industry
The oil and gas industry is experiencing a brain drain due to the exodus of experienced, knowledgeable baby boomers who are reaching retirement age. By 2025, only seven percent of the entire oil and gas workforce will be age 50 or over. At the same time, the younger generation of scientists are less attracted to oil and gas than to other industries. This is especially a problem in the upstream petrochemical sector. However, thanks to technological advancements, oil and gas companies can now operate equipment remotely from a centralized location. This will change the recruitment dynamic and likely make it easier to recruit younger talent, as there is less reliance on geographical recruitment, and talent can be based in any up-and-coming city.
Increased use of digital platforms
Companies will increasingly utilize digital platforms. Cloud-based collaboration tools make it easier for teams to continue to work remotely with baby boomers who have moved into consulting positions. This helps minimize brain drain and promotes the transferal of knowledge to younger workers. Digital platforms also enable teams of scientists in varied locations to work together on projects. For example, in farming, remote teams work with farmers to achieve better food chain management using AI. In addition, companies use digital platforms to attract and develop talent, utilizing features such as streaming video and augmented reality for everything from video interviews and online aptitude tests to training sessions for critical skills.
Empowerment of gig workers
The gig economy has continued to evolve, and a large portion of skilled scientists are now independent contractors, freelancers, or some other kind of free agent. With low unemployment rates, specialized scientists have many employment options. That’s why, to recruit this highly skilled talent, employers and scientific companies need to create attractive employment packages.
The successful recruitment of specialized scientific talent hinges on what motivates these workers, especially the younger generations. For many millennials and Generation Z workers, teamwork is very important. Nevertheless, they don’t necessarily want to work on-site on a permanent basis. For this reason, it’s important to offer the opportunity to work remotely within a team. In addition, employers need to understand that millennials want work that’s socially responsible and has a positive impact. Gen Z workers want to make a positive difference as well, but they also want to know what a gig will offer. Regardless of your generation or preferences, employers need to clearly define what skills you can develop, what experiences you can acquire, and what the financial remuneration will be.
Continued merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors
M&A activity is likely to drastically increase coming off a down year in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors—273 deals in 2017, off 27 percent from 2016—but to a certain extent, the reasons for M&As is shifting. Big pharma is focusing more on acquiring biotech companies in order to obtain promising drug compounds that are in development, as well as the skilled scientific talent that’s developing those compounds. This offers access to potential products that are already five or seven years into the development cycle. In addition, contract research organizations (CROs) will keep consolidating and expanding in order to offer a broader spectrum of services to their pharmaceutical and biotech clients.
A third of the U.S. workforce currently consists of free agents, many of whom are highly skilled. Additionally, recruitment of both permanent and gig workers is becoming more complex. To navigate this challenging talent landscape, a growing number of companies are partnering with workforce solutions firms. These partnerships can help drive an organization’s success by recruiting talent. They can also drive career success by connecting you with opportunities at great scientific employers you may otherwise never see.
As demand increases for a talented scientific workforce, organizations are reaffirming their need to partner with trusted recruiting, staffing, and outsourcing services firms. On the other side of the equation, you can improve your career prospects by learning from a staffing firm what scientific skills those same organizations are seeking today. Or, connect with a new opportunity.