5 hiring trends within Pharmaceutical Recruitment Singapore

The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry in Singapore has grown phenomenally to be the regional hub for innovation, research and development (R&D) in Asia Pacific (APAC). Currently, Singapore’s value of pharmaceuticals alone adds up to a whopping S$8.5 billion with total R&D expenditure for biomedical and related sciences in Singapore to be S$1.9 billion.

Back in 2020, the import value of pharmaceutical products to Singapore amounted to approximately USD3.6 billion despite the pandemic. In 2021, there were 148 clinical trials approved in Singapore, an increase compared to the previous year, where there were 122 clinical trials approved in the country. These are indications that Singapore still possess positive trade balance in the pharmaceutical sector despite the woes of the pandemic.


How has talent trends been impacted?

Given the optimistic outlook of the industry, one can only imagine the peak in demand for niche talent to fill the gaps of a chronic talent shortage in Singapore. Whilst the country remains as an attractive hub for foreign investors, manufacturing firms as well as talent to set foot in, there are heightened restrictions in cross-border mobility and this would impede the ease of bringing in skilled talent to Singapore.

Real Staffing Singapore highlights our top five hiring trends that you can expect to see in 2022 to support pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in their hiring strategy for the new year ahead.


1. Singapore will remain a strategic hub for foreign pharmaceutical companies to set foot in

Singapore’s deep base of skilled talent, strong manufacturing capabilities and thriving research ecosystem have drawn pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms to set up here to serve patients from around the globe, and connect with the growing Asian market. This is coupled with its stable geopolitical environment which allowed firms to view Singapore as a strategic location.

Meanwhile, domestic firms have had to implement digital practices to help maintain company operations, which has led to a surge in demand for technology professionals - such as developers, data engineers, cybersecurity, and machine learning jobs..

As a leading biomedical science hub at the heart of Asia, Singapore is the choice location for companies to develop and produce new products that better meet Asia’s healthcare needs. Companies benefit from our pro-business environment, infrastructure, talent and innovation ecosystem, as well as our proximity to the rest of Asia.

Eight of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies have facilities in Singapore, and are manufacturing 4 of the top 10 drugs by global revenue. Companies like GlaxoSmithKline, MSD and Roche have based a range of commercial activities, including Supply Chain Management, Regulatory Affairs and Medical Affairs in Singapore.


2. A recovery of the labour market for pharmaceutical market and the impact of talent shortages

The labour market recovery is expected to continue into 2022 alongside further easing of Covid-19 curbs, though border restrictions remain a significant driver of labour market tightness, according to the Manpower Ministry's (MOM) latest Labour Market Report on December 15th 2021. There are now twice as many job vacancies as unemployed persons, but this is partly due to sectors that have lost Work Permit holders, said MOM.

Even as drug discovery and development models evolve amid regulatory changes and challenging R&D productivity, our extensive and integrated research ecosystem continues to deliver impact and value to pharmaceutical companies. Here, firms can forge partnerships with key opinion leaders, institutes, emerging biotechs, as well as clinical and contract research organisations to rapidly advance pipeline assets. A total of S$4 billion in public sector research funding has been committed to the Health and Biomedical Sciences Domain.

In terms of employment rates, Singapore’s overall employment fell by 2,400 in Q3 2021, which is significantly less than the 16,300 fall in Q2 2021.


3. Rise in demand for e-commerce healthcare specialists

The online healthcare landscape has been developing exponentially because of a rise in digitalisation and an increasing use of the internet and mobile applications. Medical applications such as tele-medicine and tele-consultations are just a few of the new solutions revolutionising the healthcare industry.

According to Markets and Markets, the market to sell medical equipment online is swiftly growing by 6.8% between 2019 and 2021. The online retailing space presents itself as an opportunity for companies to make healthcare more accessible. Companies that are successful in the digital world not only have to comply with local regulations, they must also build cybersecurity capabilities and ensure a positive customer experience.


4. Evaluating skills of talent needed and reviewing welfare benefits

Performance evaluations and job requirements have changed over the past year. Reports have shown that more than half of the firms in Singapore have changed the way they assess their employees to reflect the time of crisis. Management teams, for example, began assessing individuals by placing greater emphasis on positive behaviours, such as resilience and collaboration. As such, it is no doubt that soft skills like team collaboration would become a sought after employee attribute during these times.

The boundaries of work-life balance also became a hot topic since the onset of the pandemic. In Singapore, four in five employees said that they were equally or more productive working from home. In fact, only 5% of them prefer to work completely remotely. This indicates that, while full-time work in an office setting is unlikely to resume across the board, employees much prefer to have the best of both worlds – a hybrid model. The social element of an office setting, despite current trends, is also  hard to replace.


5. Singaporeans expect an increase in salary packages

The APAC region is expected to lead with salary increases for employees again. The predicted average real increase is 1.9%, higher than any other region, with the global real salary increase forecasted to be just 0.9% on average.

Singaporeans on the other hand can expect to see an average of 3.5% salary increase in 2022. The percentage of companies predicting salary freezes in Singapore has dropped significantly, with only 6.0% expecting to implement freezes in 2022 – down from 22.0% this year.

Companies are also going through extensive planning and experimenting with hybrid models that better fit employees’ lifestyle, which may result in long-term business savings. This means companies will need to pay top dollar to retain top talent, amid a buoyant job market and challenges surrounding engaging employees outside an office environment.


What are some popular strategies to attract and retain talent?

The most commonly used talent attraction strategies by companies in Singapore are:

  • Competitive remuneration and benefits package
  • Dynamic company culture
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Remote/flexible work arrangements
  • Company reputation
  • Constant technology advancement


Real Staffing can support you with your hiring needs

Whether you’re evaluating your hiring strategy, comparing organisational structures with your competitors or however unique your firm situation might be, Real Staffing is here to help you. As an expert in pharmaceutical recruitment Singapore, we have access to a network of pharma, healthcare and biotech professionals whether it’s a permanent role or contract job. Get in touch with our specialist and experienced team via the form below.

Get in touch

Whether you’re a professional looking for a job or a business seeking highly skilled talent, the team at Real is here for you.

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