The medical technology industry affords great opportunities for qualified professionals across a broad range of disciplines.
We have seen a strong demand nationally for a range of engineering professionals; process engineers, lean six sigma engineers, quality engineers, validation engineers, manufacturing engineers, NPD engineers, automation engineers, process design engineers, and polymer engineers are all sought after. Salaries in this sector have been relatively stable over the last 12 months, with a small number of pay increases in certain niche areas. Demand for engineers will remain strong over the next few years. This steady demand for engineering skills will lead to certain pressure points in supply as the industry continues to grow, but the output of new engineers, the dispersed nature of the existing engineering talent, and the experience the Institutes of Technology have in servicing the demands of medical device multinationals, will ensure there is no critical shortage of engineering skills in the industry.
Alongside these engineering skills there is an increased demand for biotechnology and pharmaceutical related skills. Personnel with qualifications in the biological sciences, chemistry and pharmacology are becoming more important as well. The convergence of different technologies with medical device products means that there is a demand for expertise in the areas of nanotechnology, software, ICT, maths, statistics, informatics and bioprocessing, and material science. There has been an increase in the pace of automation as the industry in Ireland shifts towards the production of more high value products. This requires greater training for employees in the industry, and places more pressure on 3rd level institutes to produce the necessary volume of graduates. Overall, this will drive up the quality of employment in the industry and increase Ireland’s competitiveness internationally.
ICT skills are playing an increasing role in the medical device industry, particularly in the area of connected health. Government efforts to increase the ICT graduate output have been very successful, but the rapidly expanding incorporation of ICT into other industries means that a greater increase in graduate output is required in order to keep pace with this rise in demand. The government sponsored Springboard programme offered 21 ICT conversion courses in 2014, and is providing a further 42 courses in the 2015/16 academic year, which should help address the demand for ICT professionals. Springboard also provided 14 medtech courses in 2014/15. In addition to the demand for the major technical skills, highly qualified staff are also needed in support functions such as regulatory affairs, HR, finance, ICT, and sales. Irish third level institutes will be able to match demand for these skill sets going forward.
Sustained efforts at encouraging STEM careers and the provision of conversion courses should ensure there are sufficient numbers of graduates. CAO Level 8 first preference applications for STEM courses, which include science, engineering, computing and construction, have increased by 18% over the 5 years since 2010. Individually there has been a 23.9% rise in engineering applications, a 47.6% rise in computing applications, a 17.2% rise in science applications, and a drop of 36.1% in construction applications. This increase in STEM applications has been ongoing since 2007 but there are still minor shortages in certain disciplines. CAO application trends suggest that this will abate over the next few years. The government are devising a new apprenticeship programme in consultation with industry to provide more skilled professionals at technician level. This will further bolster the supply of qualified personnel for the medical device industry.
The medical device industry affords excellent opportunities for graduates and experienced professionals across a range of disciplines. Salaries are competitive and employment opportunities can be found in every region of the country. Medical device companies can expect a good supply of graduates over the next few years and professionals will experience an expanding range of job opportunities and the industry continues to grow.
Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group