The Experts: Yvette Cleland on Reskilling and Upskilling

Yvette Cleland

CEO, Group Managing Director, CPL Life Sciences, Clinical Professionals

Yvette Cleland worked in the pharmaceutical industry for eight years at Janssen, part of J&J. In 1999 she moved to professional staffing and went on to build contract and permanent teams throughout the UK for many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies.

Welcome to our video series, The Experts. In the series, we interview staffing leaders to hear their perspectives on industry trends, lessons they’ve learned in the careers, and their leadership philosophies.

In this clip, Yvette Cleland, CEO of the Clinical Professionals Group, discusses why reskilling and upskilling will be a major topic of conversation in the pharmaceutical recruitment sector in 2019.



What will be an important topic of conversation in the recruitment industry in 2019?

Yvette Cleland: I think there’s something absolutely around reskilling and I work within life sciences so we’re seeing a massive disruption within the industry at the moment around how we are developing drugs. So on one side things we are chairing and had brought together both in Boston and in the UK, groups of chief medical officers and medical directors together to actually talk about the disruption and change and what skills they need in the future and how we go about actually developing those skills.


What is Clinical Professionals doing to advance reskilling and upskilling?

Yvette Cleland: We offer a program called Physician to Pharma, it’s something we’ve been running for the last five years where we take highly skilled physicians coming out of healthcare that want to transition into the pharmaceutical biotech industry and we offer and facilitate them a brief training for a couple of days, but it just looks at competencies and how they can transition.

However, the area I’m most passionate about is when we find graduates, particularly in the UK, are not getting first to industry roles. So three years ago we spent 12 months designing and developing a program that would see us completely sponsor and to train life science graduates and then use our staffing wing to place them into first to industry roles. In the last three years, we have now fully funded, trained and placed in first to industry roles more than 100 graduates.

Now I think for a staffing business that is an exceptional thing to do. I think staffing in the next three to five years is going to go through its largest and probably most dynamic change. I think your point around how we will be able to automate everything is absolutely key to what’s going to happen as we move ahead. We have to find other areas where we are adding value to our client base, and where else could you add more value than by creating the skills that your client needs in order to grow?

I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved in that area and that we continue to achieve. Our biggest challenge around that is our client base viewing a staffing business and thinking, ‘Why are they doing this?’ We’re doing it because if we don’t, we think in three to five years time there will be such a shortage of skilled workers that where are our clients going to find them from? Because they most certainly are not investing in training any longer and they haven’t for the last 10 to 15 years in pharmaceuticals. They have outsourced everything. So we are now making the change that the industry needs in order to have its highly-skilled staff.

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