In cooperation with the T5 KarrierePortal, this year marks the first time the T5 Career Forum will take place at the MEDICA trade fair. Here, future specialists and managers meet prospective employers in a condensed setting. MEDICA-tradefair.com spoke with Klaus-Peter Kaas about job search problems in the medical technology sector and the opportunities the T5 Career Forum provides.
Mr. Kaas, the MEDICA trade fair focuses on the medical and medical technology industries. What are the career opportunities in this sector?
Klaus-Peter Kaas: The medical technology industry is a growing sector, especially given the fact that many health care processes are being automated. That is to say, you constantly need new developments. Digital technologies also provide many opportunities to greatly modify the base design of medical devices or to develop brand-new equipment. Simply put, it means there is a dire need for engineers and software developers with a medical mindset. And that is the challenging part. The industry as we see it has a glaring shortage of skilled specialists and managers in the engineering and software sector.
So you believe there is a skills shortage in companies?
Kaas: That is right because the industry is booming due to the two aspects mentioned earlier. This leads to a specific shortage in this area. The challenge is that there is a need for people who are knowledgeable both in the technical and software fields and who have a scientific mindset. This is a very difficult combination to find.
Do specialists in this field have any specific problems in their job hunt?
Kaas: The biggest challenge is that many employers in this field are not well-known. We are all familiar with Siemens for instance and perhaps GE. But the latter is a US company and it gets a tad more difficult in Germany. You might also be familiar with Philips Healthcare, though Philips is perhaps better known in terms of its consumer products. Things get really challenging when it comes to small and medium-sized companies that look for employees. In 90 to 95 percent of cases, these are companies we don't even know the names of, much less know them as prospective employers in the medical technology sector. The name recognition of employers and their job openings represent the biggest difficulty.
The Career Forum at the MEDICA trade fair wants to bring employees and employers together. How can we envision this?
Kaas: Since the Career Forum takes place at the Galerie (Gallery), you can imagine this like an elongated marketplace. Here, multiple employers are lined up next to each other. This is intended to give prospective employees the opportunity to discover attractive employers on the market and find out about their available job openings. We are convinced that this can only work if you offer the search for employers or employees in this type of condensed form. For example, when a job candidate walks through the 18 halls at the MEDICA trade fair, he/she may encounter an exhibitor that might be interesting as a prospective employer but the candidate subsequently needs to first inquire whether someone from the human resources department is presently available at the booth – which is generally not the case however. Meanwhile, some exhibitors offer a small HR corner so that you can actually find someone there. At any rate, the entire process is complicated and intricate, both for the exhibiting companies and the job candidates who quickly lose interest. At the Career Forum, candidates face a concentrated host of employers and are thus able to reach their goal very quickly and efficiently. They are able to directly get oriented as well as instantly compare which employer best matches their personal criteria.
What advantages do visitors of the Forum and participating companies reap compared to other routes, for instance, a purely internet-based employer/employee search?
Kaas: Nothing is better than face-to-face contact. All attempts to only handle the entire process electronically, for instance with video trade shows and webinars or similar events, are mere efforts to accomplish something in a less expensive and faster manner. However, this does not work when it comes to selecting the right people that employers would actually like to hire. At most, it can result in a filtering process that lets you reduce the number of candidates. But sooner or later, you inevitably will need to face your prospective employees. And this is also something all employers keep telling us: nothing beats face-to-face contact. We believe that attempts to find skilled experts through social media only work in a limited fashion.
What do you expect from the Forum that will take place for the very first time at MEDICA 2016?
Kaas: First of all, we expect to get some positive feedback and that everyone, both exhibitors and candidates, views the Career Forum as the right approach. This year, we start off by only offering the marketplace. But next year, we plan to enhance the product by setting up an actual recruiting lounge, where people can have anonymous conversations for example. Or we might offer company presentations where employers are able to present themselves for a half hour to a larger number of people.