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How is the Medical Devices Industry Facing the Digital Skills Shortage?

How is the Medical Devices Industry Facing the Digital Skills Shortage?

Revenue in the medical devices industry is projected to reach €118.40bn in 2022, with an annual growth rate of 4.76%, resulting in a market volume of €149.40bn by 2027.

Having played a significant role during the pandemic, the medical devices industry has been growing, on average, by 2% per year over the past 10 years.

Comparatively, the level of specialised talent necessary to fill positions in the industry isn’t quite as abundant.

The medical devices industry has long struggled with talent shortages, and with the rising competition from other industries for digital skills specifically, this is only likely to become more challenging over time.

So, how is the medical devices industry facing the digital skills shortage?

Why is there a need for digital skills in the medical devices industry?
Finding more innovative ways to connect with patients was a challenge for the industry during the pandemic, putting a greater emphasis on the use of Digital Health Technologies (DHTs).
With this shift came additional digital-led solutions, such as improving the management of patient records through the cloud, upgrading cybersecurity, and enhancing the way that data is analysed and interpreted.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another emerging area with the potential to revolutionise the industry, though with its numerous advantages come further challenges relating to the need for talent that can both harness the technology and keep up with the pace of technological advancement.
As manual processes are replaced by AI to reduce operational costs, it is becoming more commonplace to pair AI with human intelligence to best manage error handling and performance management.
All of these potential digital innovations (and their associated challenges) are reliant on the talent to manage them, however, which seems to be in short supply.

Rethinking employee benefits offering
Talent scarcity is hardly a new concept in the medical devices industry, but the increased competition from other industries has made this challenge even more insurmountable.
Financial incentives have been a popular option in the past, from sign-on bonuses to stock options - but are things changing?
The rise of remote working has changed the location rush, which often resulted in a hurry to offer the best relocation packages and other location-related incentives.
Instead, many medical device businesses are pursuing more comprehensive employee benefits to attract digital talent, including benefits like:
Work-life balance
Clear job progression paths
Learning and development opportunities
These benefits are rising in popularity across industries, yet the benefit that differentiates the medical devices industry from others is the opportunity for candidates to find fulfilment in their work.
Being able to be a part of groundbreaking projects, use innovative technologies, and drive positive change in healthcare and society at large is a considerable benefit that medical device businesses can use to their advantage in their search for digital talent.

Focus on transferable skills over experience
A lot of the candidates with the ideal skill set may not have a background in life sciences.
This doesn’t mean that they can’t contribute positively to a medical devices organisation, however, as their skills are both highly coveted and transferable.
We’ve spoken about competition from the likes of Google and Amazon and how to compete against larger companies in a previous blog post, and part of this is also reliant on recognising transferable skills rather than emphasising experience alone.
The best way for organisations to achieve this is to advertise for job roles with a focus on the skillset, rather than solely an academic or experience-based background.
That way, there is an emphasis on the skills and how they relate to the position (e.g. programming skills to assist with automating robotics capabilities), rather than a potential barrier to access.
The candidates with the right skills but not necessarily the conventional background could therefore be a great fit for organisations, with this approach also widening the talent pool.

When one of the largest challenges facing a medical devices company is a digital skills shortage combined with a talent shortage, the best answer may lie in upskilling their existing employees.
Employees have already shown their value to the organisation and investing in them is a logical, cost-effective option that requires no competition with other organisations or lengthy hiring processes.
Many medical devices organisations will be facilitating the development of digital skills through both internal and external programs and training.
The benefit of this is twofold – existing employees develop skills that the organisation is in need of, and development and training programs are attractive benefits for potential candidates too.
This means that the businesses offering development opportunities are adding to their employee value proposition and also addressing their hiring issues by focusing on their existing employees.

Shifting demographics
When there is a high demand for a specific skill set or for talent generally, the talent pool will, at some point, have to widen to accommodate.
This means that the medical devices industry may experience a shift in demographics, whether in terms of greater numbers of graduates being hired or broader parameters for job specifications.
In the same way that upskilling existing employees can prove beneficial both in the sense of shortening a skills gap and attracting new talent, widening the hiring focus can also provide the opportunity to give an organisation greater diversity.
After all, the race for digital talent isn’t just exclusive to the life sciences industry, it’s occurring across industries.
Focusing on removing any potential hiring biases (e.g. seeing candidates as either too young or too old for a specific role) can provide access to a wider pool of talent and ensure that an organisation is diverse in skillset and employee background.

In conclusion
With rapid change, there is often a race for talent.
The medical devices industry is experiencing significant technological advances and successes, and digital talent is the key to continuing these successes and innovations.
To meet this demand, medical devices organisations may find that they need to rethink their benefits offering to appeal to candidates with digital skills due to the highly competitive hiring market.
Alternatively, adjusting their hiring practices to be more diverse in terms of demographics and experience will also help to widen the talent pool enough to secure top talent that can keep up with the ever-changing industry.

Panda International is trusted by leading life sciences companies worldwide to provide the very best contingent talent and deliver seamless candidate experiences. For more information on how we work and what we can do for you and your clients, contact us today.