Brexit May Cause Exodus of Life Sciences Professionals from UK, Notes Research

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According to research from staffing firm, Kelly Services, 14% of life science professionals based in the UK may move abroad if Brexit results in negative changes to economic conditions.

According to research from Kelly Services (a staffing firm), 14% of life science professionals based in the United Kingdom may move abroad if Brexit results in negative changes to economic conditions.

The research comprised a survey of 1400 life science professionals based in seven countries-UK, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, and The Netherlands-which specifically asked if those in the workforce are ready for the change resulting from Brexit. Three main themes emerged from the survey-the risk of skills shortages, a growing demand for workforce agility, and wage disparity between countries. 

In the ‘Talent in Science’ report, it was highlighted that the life sciences industry relies quite heavily, when compared with other industries, on contingent employees, which was cited as being advantageous by 14% of respondents as it gave them the ability to switch roles and work as and when they choose. However, the level of contingent workforce and as such the location of the talent pool does not necessarily marry with the location of need.

Additionally, the advent of Brexit led to 14% of the life sciences professionals from the UK who have not previously relocated stating that they may be prompted into a move overseas if there was a negative impact on the economic conditions after March 29, 2019. This figure was much higher than the average proportion of all respondents from the seven European countries, which was only 5%.

Furthermore, there were quite pronounced differences in all-occupation wages from country-to-country. The base wage was found to be a significant attraction for 12% of the respondents and the UK ranked as one of the lowest for average all-occupation wage rate with Switzerland ranking top.


“[The UK] has long been recognized as a leader in life sciences where many of the top minds from the E[uropean] U[nion] and around the world have sought to make their mark,” commented Richard Bradley, MD for UK and Ireland at Kelly when discussing the results of the report. “Then along came Brexit, a seismic political event that has shaken the industry to its core, creating uncertainty for businesses and workers. And with the UK one of the lowest when it comes to the average, all-occupation salary-and with negligible adjustments to salary, Kelly evidences, made following the devaluation of Sterling which commenced in the run up to the EU Referendum-it should be of no surprise that 14% of life science professionals in the UK will be looking to relocate if there is a further economic shock from Brexit.

“The continuing uncertainty of Brexit along with attractive salaries are two powerful draws. The UK must do more to ensure it retains the best talent and I would appeal to the government to make continuing access to the skills required by industries such as life sciences central to its Brexit debate at this critical time in our political history. The wrong decision will have huge negative ramifications for the life science industry and the UK economy overall.”

Source: Kelly Services