Talent challenges, Brexit and Healthcare and Life Sciences

Published 10/12/2018 - 4 min Read

By Jordi Pastor

Client Partner

Quick Summary Jordi talks about the need for clarity in determining the UK's future relationship with the European Union as the Brexit discussions continue to cause concern.

4 min Read

This week marks the latest pivotal week in determining the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.

For those working in the healthcare and life sciences sector, there is an overwhelming desire for clarity in terms of the likely way forward. For organisations, clarity will enable them to better plan for the future while, for talent (particularly EU nationals) it will help to inform their decision-making as to the direction they wish to advance their careers.

After more than two years of debate and discussion, there remain a number of potential outcomes, all of which will impact on talent acquisition strategies to a lesser or greater degree.

They range from a ‘no deal’ scenario in which the UK leaves the EU with no certainty over its future relationship with our partners on the Continent to a successful vote in Parliament for the ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ or a variation of what is currently on the table.

There has even been talk in recent days of a Second Referendum (or so called People’s Vote) or, even, the possibility that Article 50 might be cancelled and we continue as we are as a member of the EU.

While the politicking has being going on, a number of major organisations in healthcare and life sciences and other sectors have taken the decision to relocate. This included the European Medicines Agency which announced it was moving its HQ – and 900 jobs – from London to Amsterdam. Elsewhere, Dr Ian Hudson, CEO of The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is to step down from his role, in part because of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

For the last 40 years, EU nationals have been able to move freely and take up senior roles with multinationals in the UK, but there is now a need to plan for a different talent landscape.

This backdrop of uncertainty has encouraged a number companies in the HCLS sector to partner with Armstrong Craven to provide them a range of services including talent insight, mapping and pipelining.

Pharma companies is gaining insight in a number of areas. This includes discovering the views of EU nationals working in the UK. Even if talent is able to continue in their current roles after Brexit, how many of them will want to remain in a country which has voted to no longer be part of the EU? Organisational insight is also hugely important, enabling companies to understand how their competitors are preparing for the future and the scenarios they are planning against?

The UK Government’s hope will be that many EU citizens will choose to remain in the UK because of the opportunities available to further their careers. Switzerland is not a member of the EU but key centres like Zurich, Basle and Lake Geneva are hugely attractive to senior talent from across the globe searching for the best opportunities for advancement.

Should EU nationals choose to relocate to mainland Europe from the UK, companies may need to try and lure UK and US talent from Switzerland to work in the UK.

Brexit is also likely to have implications for US-headquartered pharma businesses. Traditionally, they have looked to the UK for their European headquarters with the commonality of language and other cultural similarities. In future, these multinationals may consider Dublin a better option.

Alongside insight work, companies are keen to map how their competitors are likely to be affected by the UK’s decision to leave the EU. This, in turn, can lead into pipelining projects to put companies in the strongest possible position to have ready-now and ready-later candidates bought into the company culture and ready to move when the need arises.

While the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future relationship with the EU remains, companies need to gather as much market and talent intelligence as possible. Knowledge is power and those organisations which have relationships built with the best-in-class pipelined candidates will be ones best positioned to take advantage of the new landscape which emerges.


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