Trans-Atlantic Talent

Viewpoint | By: Austin Clark, Chief Commercial Officer | | 4 minute read.
Purdue University, Indiana

Last month, I returned to Indiana, spending time with the Indiana Health Forum and consolidating the relationship we’ve built with them, via the Scottish Lifesciences Association.

Why Indiana? Because we believe there are huge synergies between Indiana and Scotland when it comes to life sciences, and that we have the ability to help each other as this industry continues to grow and grow.

International Opportunities

The state is home to some major pharmaceutical and animal health companies – not least the world renowned Eli Lilly, founded in 1876 and still playing a huge role in the development of the state’s life sciences education and commercial function. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Indiana is a hotbed of life science development right now and in short, is an inspiring place for those of us involved in the sector – particularly those of us focused upon the development of the Scottish life sciences sector, which continues to grow exponentially.

Roughly the same size, both regions are looking to develop an effective pipeline of talent to service the increasing demands upon their life sciences sectors. In other words, Scotland and Indiana are well matched partners when it comes to developing each other’s life sciences industries and Entrust Resource Solutions (ERS) is committed to playing a part in that relationship.

I first visited Indiana and the IHF back in 2019, on a mission to really get to get to grips with their life sciences scene – understanding where they felt there were gaps or shortfalls in terms of available talent and identifying ways in which ERS could help.

My visits to Indiana have included meeting with economic development bodies to understand their objectives and priorities. Driven by mass, multi-million dollar investment, Indiana is not only developing a world-leading life sciences industry but the whole local infrastructure – the housing, schools and communities that service the required life sciences workforce. The level of commitment is impressive and in comparison to the life sciences hubs in New England and California, it’s very much “open for business”. Companies have a fabulous opportunity to truly establish themselves there, wherever they may originate from.

That’s what grabs my attention.

Despite the venerability of some of Indiana’s well-established life science companies who will have a relative monopoly on attracting graduates and more experienced professionals, new companies are arriving in town and will be attractive employment prospects. Ultimately, there will be more jobs available than people, and the existing, restricted talent pool currently available will force costs up and create sector instability. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is never a sustainable recruitment model!

So how can ERS impact that situation?

“Work ready” graduates

Right now, there are more science graduates in Scotland than there are relevant jobs. What’s more, it takes considerable time, money and effort for a company to commit to a graduate fresh from university who is not particularly “work ready”. To address that, ERS is establishing an academy, which will work in conjunction with our colleagues in Indiana (and elsewhere). We’ll be plugging their talent gaps by asking companies to commit to graduates, before we then develop them via accredited courses which ultimately provide those companies with young talent which is far more ready to efficiently enter into the working environment.

Safeguarding the Scottish life sciences scene

It’s not just about helping our friends across the Atlantic, however. Scottish science graduates who are unable to get a job locally, are likely to move into other sectors, without ever experiencing a career in life sciences. They don’t get a chance to develop the passion for what must be one of the most critical industries on the planet, and we lose so much potential talent in this way.  So, by increasing the flow of graduates from Scotland to the US for a limited time, we are actually developing a pipeline of professionals who will make a huge impact upon the Scottish life sciences sector upon their return.

We’re currently involved in the development of a visa structure which will give our graduates the ability to work in US for two years. What an incredible experience and what an addition to anyone’s CV! If they choose to return home, our own life sciences sector will benefit from young professionals with a broader experience under their belt. But equally, if they explore options to stay in the USA, then we’re doing something incredible for the sustainability of Indiana’s life sciences sector where demand for personnel is a high priority.

And it’s not just about the next generation. This visa structure also has the ability to open up the US life sciences sector to the UK’s established talent pool – something which becomes ever-more feasible as a post-Brexit world makes travel and work in Europe increasingly complicated.

Our passion is life sciences – our links with Indiana are just one example of our commitment to ensuring this global industry continues to thrive.

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