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14th Jan, 2022

Stuart Nunn
Stuart Nunn
Job Title
Senior Area Manager

We have seen phenomenal growth in all areas of the sector, both connected to the pandemic and outside of it.

Thousands of opportunities have arisen for scientific candidates over the last 12 months due to mass Covid testing, and this will likely continue for the foreseeable future. In other areas such as medicine, food, and chemicals, we’ve seen many research and development roles being created due to a boom in manufacturing.

With this greater demand for professionals comes a shortage. Our recent survey asked over 500 professionals what recruitment changes they’ve seen in the last year, with 72% saying it was harder to find people with the right skills. For employers, the top five skills comprised teamwork, communication, technology, leadership, organisation. This shows that it’s mostly soft skills which are highest on the list of employer priorities.

Talent supply and demand

As a result of Covid testing being in such high demand, many scientists are choosing those roles over others. They are well-paid and good opportunities for professionals to learn and gain invaluable experience. The huge demand for HCPC-registered biomedical scientists we’ve seen recently has been unprecedented, due to Public Health England’s requirements for analysis and submission of Covid-19 test results. Professionals who leave these Covid-related roles have entered the market with inflated salary expectations, which has pushed average salaries up across the board.

It’s important to understand the regional differences in the job market. For example, our data shows that regulatory affairs managers working with medical devices can earn up to £51,190 a year in Scotland – whereas, in London and East Anglia, this could reach an average salary of £62,520.

Most employers are counteroffering to retain their best talent, which has also raised salary averages in different regions depending on their demand. It’s crucial for employers and jobseekers alike to understand the value of roles to offer and accept the right salaries.

Attract and retain the best talent

Employers are increasingly searching for scientists with a commercial background to take on dual-focused positions and support sales and marketing. Jobseekers with both a scientific and commercial background may be hard to find, but employers should consider upskilling professionals with potential in one of these areas.

Development and training opportunities are more attractive to professionals than ever, with career progression a top priority for many at present. Offering this benefit gives employers a great return on their investment; employees will feel more valued and engaged in a business, as well as operating more proficiently. Developing grassroots talent can boost a company’s reputation and employee value proposition and will aid attraction and retention.

Scientific professionals are much more health conscious now, and wellbeing has become a top priority for many. Businesses will need to increase their wellbeing support and health benefits to attract the best jobseekers. For those in non-lab-based roles, achieving a good work-life balance through remote (30%), hybrid (42%) and flexible (45%) working models were most desirable traits respondents cited. For lab-based roles, offerings will need to be a bit more creative – health insurance (51%) and additional annual leave (which over 80% of our respondents wanted to receive), for example.

It’s tough to predict the future trajectory of the sector with variants emerging regularly, but we can expect the job market to stay competitive for the foreseeable future. Businesses must stay agile to secure the best talent.

Download our 2024 scientific salary guide now, to help optimise your salary and benefit offering