Talent Crunch- The Great Debate on Finding Talent

About 63% of organizations around the world ranging from the manufacturing sector to the health sector, is concerned about the alarming rise in talent shortage. While the problem is undoubtedly clear, the reasoning and attempts to combat it is yet still partially obscured.

A recent debate held on July 18th, 2019 in Paris, France, among health professionals addressed such matters. Easily, it was identified that the healthcare sector alone withstood a deduction of about 700,000 traditional jobs due to the digitalisation link with artificial intelligence. It was also mentioned that when it came to acquiring talent from universities and schools, often at times top students would choose companies ranking in the Top 10 however neither of them came from the healthcare sector. The alleged negative perception of healthcare ultimately prohibits the potential new generation from entering the new market.

Customarily, talent professionals craft suitable talent strategies to match the dynamic and ever-changing environment that the workplace exists in. This is due to the workforce becoming more global, mobile, diverse and multi-general. For this debate panel, professionals included; Laurence Conte-Arassus, President of Medtronic France; Claire Nassiet – Project Manager at EIT Health, which is a network of leading innovators in the world of health in partnership with European Universities and Emmanuel de Ferrières de Sauveboeuf – Business Unit Director – COMEX at AbbVie. Each demonstrated their point of view on the topic of Talent Crunch.

When it came to define what a ‘Talent’ is, debaters spoke candidly on the matter. Laurence Conte-Arassus mentioned that talent companies look for are those who are: (possibly) self-taught; versatile and a team player; they understand their working environment and they should understand their strengths and weaknesses. However, still shortage exits as the younger generation loses interest in the healthcare industry and venture elsewhere. Emmanuel de Ferrières de Sauveboeuf, further reiterates this by confirming that today’s talents with a technical or digital background would prefer to use their skills in another industry rather than in healthcare. He said;

Today, we have to reconcile IT with the health sector. When I first started, many did not believe such a thing, but I think that it’s a good idea.

The next reoccurring subject that was addressed was the misconceptions of how the Healthcare sector is depicted. Corrupted by the current media scandals present in the medical field, talents often obtain a wrong impression of what the healthcare industry is like, despite efforts to amend that falsehood. In fact, in the debate, one professional commented that talents misinterpret the healthcare sector as not being agile enough, it lacks ‘creative’ freedom and that aspects of technological innovation simply do not exist.   Furthermore, the sudden influx of start-ups promoting transformation and change does not help matters as potential candidates live within the enchanted notion of this start-up ‘fantasy’ in hopes of the ideal visionary dream.  At this point, it is necessary for action to be taken to clear up the discrepancies seen between large companies versus smaller ones or star-ups because agility, creativity and innovation exist in both environments and not just one. Contrary to what talents may believe, the Life Sciences industry can depict creative and innovative tendencies. Surely, with increasing innovations and advances in medicine and sciences, the healthcare sector is becoming a treasure trove for technological enthusiasts, especially so with the presence of artificial intelligence.

Another pressing issue that was brought up was the matter of companies targeting the right type of talent. There is an ongoing threat for the need for future skills and the eventual urgency to find such skills in unconventional places. Panelist Claire Nassiet briefly mentioned in the debate, the ‘start-up image’ being a strong factor that would attract talent because they can ‘bring their ideas’ or ‘bring their creativity’ and expect it to be valued. She further made her point by mentioning the importance for health professionals and organisations to help change the stoic, almost forgotten image and value of the healthcare world.

The panel agreed that changing the company’s mindset can deliver great results when it comes to recruiting and companies must do their part in being proactive during the recruiting process. Being open-minded, for example, recruiting beyond the medical or pharma field, redefining one’s role or vision and recruiting from external sources can all yield a better outcome. Searching for talent from schools and universities can also still be a reliable option.

Finally, the debate covered the necessary procedures for properly training and educating talents. Claire described it best when she quoted that “talent is about personal enhancement” and that organisations like EIT Health are trying to push the industry and universities on generating programmes to efficiently train talents and have them involved in innovative activities. The subject of diversity and inclusion were additionally discussed as integrating talents of different backgrounds can bolster the notion of Talent Management. Emmanuel strengthened this point by mentioning that through this process, soft skills are often at times discovered and this gives added value to the company. Also, creative methods to training can be approached. For example, Claire mentioned the potential collaborative mentorship programmes between start-ups and mid-sized or large group companies should be explored as well.

Conclusively, the debate ended on a strong positive note as serious concerns on talent search and recruitment is continuously revisited in the ever-changing Life Sciences environment. While it is almost certain that there will be more debates like this in the future, the ongoing hope is that gradually Life Sciences and HR professionals and organisations will be more equipped on how to handle such obstacles.