Can Clinical Research Professionals Thrive in the Gig Economy?

Harvey Yau, Senior Director for Scientific Product Development, Kelly Services

Harvey Yau, Senior Director for Scientific Product Development, Kelly Services

“When your work is quite literally life-changing,” the importance of matching your talents as a clinical research professional to the right employers reaches new heights in the environment of today’s “gig economy…and free style of work,” says Harvey Yau, senior director for scientific product development with Kelly Services, an office staffing company.

Speaking on Friday (April 12) during a techXpo session at ACRP 2019 in Nashville, Yau said that with so many life sciences workers on the move in the industry, and trends in automation of labor not going away, the focus has to be on “making sure we are the advocates for our talent” and “finding the best opportunities for our talent and the right talent for our clients.”

Yau highlighted six big changes that are affecting the life sciences landscape in recent years:

  • Lack of talent (not enough skilled people for the areas that need them)
  • Fierce competition (this means talking some clients into being less stringent about their requirements for new hires and more accepting of transferable skills in those coming in from other industries)
  • Contingent dependence (relying more often on consultants and temporary employees)
  • Passive potential (“No one’s [admitting to] looking [for a new job], but everyone’s available” if the right one comes along, Yau noted.)
  • Automation fear (as technology eliminates more hands-on positions from the workforce)
  • Geography mismatch (not enough skilled people in the parts of the country where they are needed the most)

According to Yau, the emphasis of the past of “how talent looks from the outside” is giving way to the emphasis of the future on “how talent is on the inside.” This means not only that employers are learning to “speak the same language” as potential employees, but that employers are learning to stop looking for the “cardboard cutout perfect candidate” for every open position, he explained.

In this new world of matching talent to clients, companies must stop thinking of the talent as a homogeneous block, but as unique individuals, Yau said. This smarter approach to talent location “isn’t just good for your company, it is better for patients,” he added.

Author: Gary Cramer