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Life Sciences

January - March 2016

Mergers and acquisitions led to significant staffing changes in Australia’s pharmaceutical market last year. In addition, whilst we have seen an increase in generic pharmaceutical companies launching or expanding in the Australian market, the implementation of the government price reductions on patented drugs and the dramatic price cut for off-patent drugs may have an impact on the larger corporate companies.

Overall, we have seen more contract roles as mergers and acquisitions in the sector impact hiring. Restructuring in some companies has impacted a range of job functions beyond just commercial roles, as is usually the case. In areas such as Perth and Adelaide we are also seeing an increase in the demand for sales professionals with limited experience. This is a positive move in terms of bringing in fresh talent and investing in the long term development of their sales teams.

We are seeing more companies implementing new training programs at the graduate level and targeting employees with a background in a different part of health sciences. This strategy is helping employers to attract more staff but as most training programs are lengthy we are still seeing shortages of experienced staff.

Medical device companies remain stable and we have seen a number of smaller businesses expanding their product ranges and sales teams.

Skills in demand

In terms of the January to March quarter we expect demand for Medical Science Liaison professionals to continue to grow.

Clinical Research Associates continue to be increasingly sought in line with more drug trials being awarded to Australia, enabling high mobility of candidates within the industry. We have seen an increase in biotech, devices and pharma companies recruiting CRAs from the last quarter, which means they are competing with Contract Research Organisations (CROs) for top performers.

The high volume of drug trials is also creating an increase in the requirement for the Study Start Up Specialist. The Study Start Up Specialist is a role focused only on the tasks and components of the CRA role associated with starting a new trial.

Candidate trends

Within regulatory affairs, ambitious Associates are seeking to move up into more senior roles faster than employers feel their experience warrants. In lots of cases, Associates ambitious to move to a senior role are not meeting the criteria set by potential employers to become a Senior Associate. As well as looking at levels of experience, employers are also looking for candidates to demonstrate specific key behaviors and competencies that will allow them to operate as a senior. Also pipelines have not been strong in the last few years, making it difficult for candidates to attain the CAT1 and new chemical entity (NCE) experience in their current role desired by some companies to progress to Senior Associate.

We are also seeing this trend within clinical research where candidates with two to three years monitoring experience are demanding SCRA titles and salary packages.

Candidates in short supply are demanding higher salaries and benefit packages. This approach is inconsistent across the market so in some cases, when higher salaries are accepted, this can limit the employee’s options regarding their next move or promotion.

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