This article was published by Valentin Demande – Manager, Healthcare & Life Sciences

Local talent for the win

In Africa, in terms of mobility, one major change I’ve observed in the healthcare and life sciences sector over the past three years is a jump in recruitment at the local level. Most of the clients that we've worked with have really tried to put a focus on developing talents in the country. I’m observing similar trends in the Middle East as well, specifically in Saudi Arabia, at the senior level and in corporate functions. In fact, all medical and sales representatives need to be Saudi nationals by the end of 2021. Even at a senior level, in December 2020 a Saudi Medical Director was recruited for the first time for a pharmaceutical multinational. In the medical device, pharmaceutical, clinical research, and biotechnology industries, hiring local talent has a positive impact on a region and reduces the high costs and challenges associated with bringing in expats – whether it be visa issues, moving costs, or difficulties adapting to a new environment.

I've seen mobility regionally; for example, someone based in Dubai will locate to Saudi Arabia, or vice versa. So, within sub-regions we still have mobility, but much more from a local talent perspective, rather than bringing someone from Europe, the US, or Australia to come to the Middle East or Africa.

International mobility in HLS

International mobility really comes into play in hospitals and clinics, which bring in medical doctors and nurses from abroad.
Nurses and doctors are highly sought in the United Arab Emirates; Saudi Arabia is in real need of nurses and doctors as well, specifically in private hospitals. One niche that is being developed is home care services: people will need assistance at home. They don’t have the capacity to go to the hospital, so there are a lot of nurses providing home care services.

Leaders of tomorrow

If you look at a more junior level, many of our HLS clients have put graduate programs into place to develop local talents and the leaders of tomorrow. We need to really focus on which universities those talents are coming from. As a recruitment company, PageGroup can add value in terms of recruitment within the Middle East and Africa, as in HLS, we have a global database and some of the top talents that are being looked from our clients are returning candidates. 

For example, Kenyan or Nigerian citizens studied abroad and want to come back to their own countries to have a positive impact on the healthcare-life science sector. Because we have a global database, we’ll able to attract these types of talents and have enough of them ready for our clients. I think that's one of the main advantages of PageGroup in terms of recruitment: you're still able to attract international talents, but from the local country, thanks to our global reach.

Today we are living in a very complex world where candidates must adapt. Sometimes there is a curfew in certain countries, so candidates must be out and back home by a very specific period. Time management, adaptability to change, and resilience are subskills that make an enormous difference.

To measure these traits, I think it's really about seeing the personality of the person and also how they engage with us first during the interview. Within HLS, in terms of the subskills, we do have psychometric tools that can help us assess personalities, but I think it's about them giving us an example. I had one candidate who recently who had to visit hospitals before the curfew, which only gave him about two hours during the day – and his sales results didn't decrease, because he was managing his time well. What that demonstrated was that he was adaptable to this new reality where he had just two hours during the day, and he would visit his clients. So that quality was clearly there. I think resilience you also see on someone’s resume: how long they’ve been with same company. They have been able to keep up during the pandemic.

Before branching out…

For clients, look out for local talents because they have the market expertise. Today, everyone must be cautious of cost and visa procedures that can take a long time. Candidates might get a visa that’s not approved. So, looking at local talents can really save a lot of time, effort, and cost. There are a lot of advantages to looking locally for candidates.

As for candidates, they should keep up to date with the current market. There are plenty of opportunities. If I just take Saudi Arabia as an example, their analyst and investment plan is 176 billion riyals just for 2021, in healthcare and life sciences alone. They're going to build hospitals and invest in reinforcing intensive care units in existing hospitals, of course due to COVID-19. Intensive care units are really at the forefront of HLS today. 

If you are interested in reading more trends in Healthcare and Life Sciences, download our eBook, Global Trends in Healthcare & Life Sciences: Talent Mobility

If you are looking to hire, get in touch with our team. Candidates can also browse through our healthcare and pharmaceutical jobs in the Middle East and apply for the same. 

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