“Talent availability limited in biotech”

Mr Kamal Karanth, managing director, Kelly Services India, Gurgaon writes about the ground level situation in the biotechnology job market. In his current capacity, Mr Karanth is responsible for executing the company's strategy in India


Mr Kamal Karanth, managing director, Kelly Services India, Gurgaon

The combined bioscience industry has seen a surge in recruitment in the last six months including quarter 1 (Q1) 2013 with latest estimates showing a rise in hiring by about 15-18 percent over the corresponding period last year. This includes the back fills for replacements as well as new recruitment for expansion. Majority of this has been contributed by the pharma sector. Pharma alone has seen an increase in hiring activity of about 18-20 percent over last year, thanks to its ever expanding sales force, product portfolios, new R&D projects, development/manufacturing outsourcing and increasing demand from international pharma markets for quality generics. Also, newer models in pharma like Over-The-Counter (OTC) healthcare is also gaining momentum.

First hand account of biotechnology job market

Biotech is gaining traction in recruiting niche skill sets but since the talent availability is limited and very specific, the positions take a long time to fill. We have seen a 8-10 percent rise in biotech jobs in the last six months vs last year. Medical devices/equipments/surgicals is continuing to grow aggressively at about 20-25 percent, and thus recruitments are fast and with increasing volumes. Moreover, new companies are foraying into India and setting up their operations and sales structure, given the huge potential with respect to better healthcare access and rising spending capacity of people. Recruitments are growing at about 20 percent in this space. Niche areas of Research and Development (R&D) and Clinical Research Organizations (CROs) didn't really fare well in terms of growth in hirings, logically so due to slowing down of discovery programs and thus clinical development of products in the US/Europe, thereby affecting the outsourcing to India. Hirings in this space look quite flat with marginal increase of about 5-8 percetn vis-a-vis last year with occasional spurts with few companies embarking on research/clinical programs in India. The suppliers to the life science industry were quite bullish in their hunt for talent, and thus we saw about 10-12 percent rise in overall recruitments over early part of last year. The segments in this space that saw action were companies in analytical instruments, testing instruments, laboratory services, reagents/chemicals and consumables. Overall Kelly has witnessed great action in the last four months in the science space, with an increase of about 25 percent in the number of job orders that it gets from existing and new clients.

Low cost labor in Asia-Pacific drives the market

Asia is a growing market and a wealth of resources for bioscience industry. Available expertise and skilled manpower combined with low labor costs are available throughout the region and have driven multinational enterprises to heavily invest in countries like India, China and Singapore. Local companies have started to find their position as international players. Foreign direct investment are compelling Indian companies to build a team of internationally qualified manpower. Apart from establishing footprint outside the regional market, Asian companies have proven to be potential partners for world's leading companies. This has helped them polish the skills of human resources, thus elevating them to international standards. As a strategy to build a robust manpower structure, companies have also gone ahead to nurture young talent and trained them in their respective areas of specialization. This has helped them in gaining knowledge in diverse fields and handle business challenges of tomorrow. With so much of talent available, getting the right person for the right job remains a challenge. Every company has an HR department and they have their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) at all levels and sometimes the focus is to catch someone from a bigger company.


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