By Vivienne Raper, PhD
The future employees of biomanufacturing and biotechnology companies will want their work to line up with their values. That’s according to Nora Colton, PhD, professor of leadership and management for healthcare at the University College London (UCL) Global Business School for Health.
“The key message is that it’s not just about what the sector wants, but about what employees want and who these employees will be,” she explains.
Colton, who will be speaking about workforce planning at bioProcessUK, says that companies will increasingly need to turn to millennials and younger generations to fill leadership roles.
“In the post-pandemic period, we heard a lot about the great resignation that took place in the aftermath of COVID-19, and that wasn’t just about Baby Boomers, but the next generation down exited along with them,” she points out.
Millennials and younger generations tend to want to work hybrid in the office and at home. And, with dry lab work becoming more common, companies will need to consider how to structure working environments to attract and retain these employees.
Another factor is the growth of interdisciplinary work. Companies need to account for the different pathways that people might take through their careers.
“Historically, science and medical training has been rigid. People have to follow certain pathways to be leaders, but that needs to open up,” maintains Colton, explaining that university courses and companies need to train people in the cognitive skills needed to adapt to the changing workplace.
UCL, for example, offers a Masters’ degree in biotech and pharmaceutical management, which—Colton says—takes students from a variety of backgrounds and has them collaborate on business projects together. She believes this will help them shape the industry of the future, which is changing rapidly due to innovations such as AI.
“Bioprocessing [is] focused on technical skills and learning the science, and not necessarily about broader cognitive skills,” she says. “What I see is [the industry] recognizing that people need to think differently to meet challenges.”
Companies, she adds, also need to think about moving people internally throughout their careers to keep them engaged and learning. “Millennials and Generation Z will leave a job within a year,” she notes. “Companies need to be constantly thinking about how to develop the employees they have.”