Medtech recruitment stalls in DACH region.By Patrick Schoen, Practice Lead, Medical Devices, DACH
With Germany still in lockdown as 2021 gets underway, we see conservative medtech companies in this region keeping a foot on the brakes and R&D investment still very much on hold. Many of these businesses continue to operate on reduced hours and are reluctant to push forward, which means all recruitment is focused on production rather than research or development.
We see some medtech companies making use of the pandemic as an opportunity to invest in process optimisation, with a view to emerging in better, leaner shape ready to pursue growth later this year. As a result, since January we have seen growing demand for process engineers, an area where competition is currently weakened because of the impact of Covid on other industries.
Salaries are decreasing right now in the engineering sector in Germany and Austria because of the massive job cuts in sectors including automotive and aerospace, and because of the glut of graduates looking for entry-level jobs. A number of clients I have spoken to recently say they are receiving more applications for their engineering vacancies today than at any other time in the last 20 years and, while many candidates do not come with existing medtech experience, there is much potential to pick up bright young talent.
Another pinch point for the industry is the radical change that the new Medical Device Regulation MDR 2017 will bring in Europe, which is unsettling for companies and exacerbates the standstill in investment as firms wait to see how implementation unfolds.
Another pinch point for the industry is the radical change that the new Medical Device Regulation MDR 2017 will bring in Europe, which is unsettling for companies and exacerbates the standstill in investment as firms wait to see how implementation unfolds. MDR 2017, which will impact from May 2021, introduces a completely new regulatory framework for medical devices, putting candidates with experience with the regulations, and with the internationally recognised standard ISO 13485, in high demand.
While it is currently hard to predict how the pandemic will play out in Europe this year, or how ready the industry is for MDR, most commentators expect a steady return to normality in healthcare and a growing impetus for the digitisation of hospitals and investment in medtech infrastructure in the region. We expect recruitment to remain patchy in the first half of the year, with an uptick in investment thereafter that will quickly see demand for specialists in IoMT and cybersecurity increasing, particularly in the embedded area, due to increased networking.
At the same time, the trend towards increased automation in production will continue, fuelling greater appetite for automation engineers, PLC programmers and process engineers. Then, once the pandemic is a thing of the past, expect further investment into additive processes, with bioprinting becoming increasingly interesting alongside the 3D printing of plastics.