Industry May 2011

Major Growth Ahead

Beat the talent shortage with training, flexibility and support

The pharmaceutical industry in Japan is preparing for major growth. As firms compete for market share in the recovering economy, we see hiring freezes have been lifted since last year, while budgets have been adjusted for an anticipated increase in staff numbers.

Given the number of new drugs in the pipeline, regulatory-affairs professionals are in demand to initiate approval submission and monitor production once it begins on a large scale. Regulation-related positions are skill-specific over a number of levels, and we have begun to source quality applicants.

Experienced marketing personnel are in high demand as firms accelerate efforts to gain market share. A flexible approach is necessary when considering quality candidates from other marketing backgrounds.

As the market continues to improve, organisations will be growing their front-line sales force to help expand business. Hence the need for strong entry-level salespeople is anticipated, and we encourage prospective employers to focus on the skills they require rather than on the industry in which candidates have worked to date.

When recruiting, employers in the pharmaceutical industry have been looking for qualified, bilingual candidates for both commercial and R&D roles. Since there has been a shortage of such candidates in the industry, it is important that organisations take into account their competitive position to secure top talent.

Japan is expected to experience the world’s sharpest labour-force decline, according to a recent report by Hays and Oxford Economics that together explored the changing nature of the global skilled labour force.

The report forecasts a dramatic movement over the next 20 years, involving power, wealth and workforces, with the world’s working-age population expected to increase by more than one billion people. All the growth will be in developing economies, however.

The developed world will see its workforce shrink and age.

The whole world is watching as Japan’s firms and society struggle to respond effectively to a greying population and a shortage of highly skilled talent with international experience. Thus we suggest that it is essential for you to articulate a compelling vision to attract top talent, since they have the potential to help attain strong economic growth.

Employment branding, training and development, as well as knowledge retention should all be addressed. Talent management, increasing the number of foreign workers as well as other under-utilised talent pools, flexible working practices and passive candidates should also be taken into consideration.

Further, we suggest that firms develop a strategy to provide support for younger employees. Given the shrinking talent pool, their skills will be in great demand from competitors, so a solid retention plan focusing on their needs should be put in place now.