Medical technology: desperately seeking digital professionals
Medical technology: desperately seeking digital professionals
Interview with Alexander Mischner and Andreas Venzke, Kienbaum Consultants International GmbH
The global COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked digitization in many companies. Yet it has also highlighted a digital skills shortage and pent-up demand for experts in this field. Medical device companies are no exception to this trend.
At the virtual. MEDICA 2020, Alexander Mischner and Andreas Venzke delivered a lecture titled "Fachkräftebedarf in der digitalen Medizintechnik" (English: Medical technology needs a digital-savvy workforce" at the MEDICA TECH FORUM. In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, they talk about key digital skills, describe the skilled labor shortage in this area and explain how companies can overcome this dilemma.
Mr. Mischner, Mr. Venzke, as medical technology goes increasingly digital, what do companies expect of employees?
Alexander Mischner &Andreas Venzke: We notice that many aspects of healthcare and most company operations are undergoing a fundamental transformation that will only intensify in the years to come. Five years from now, most functions and processes will have changed dramatically. We will see more digital-focused roles and even brand-new tasks and activities. It is a change that will affect all of us. As a result, it is highly unlikely that people will still be successful with the current traditional skill set and qualifications in the future workplace. One question companies should thus ask themselves is 'Which qualifications and skills will be most important to future-proof a workforce in light of the ongoing digital transformation?' And from the employee's perspective: 'Which new skills will I need to acquire to stay relevant and successful in a changing job market?'
What vital skills will we need in the future workplace?
Mischner &Venzke: We like to refer to the classification made by the German Hochschul-Bildungs-Report 2020 (English: Future Skills Report – The Future of Learning and Higher Education). It distinguishes between different job skill categories for the future. The first category defines "technical skills". This includes IT specialist skills/expert knowledge such as complex data analysis, which is usually provided by highly skilled experts and not relevant for the majority of employees. Things change when we look at the second category of "key digital skills". This pertains to digital learning, agile working, or digital collaboration skills, which companies consider to be essential. We will have to acquire these skills across all functions and levels of hierarchy. They will make it easier for us to navigate an increasingly digital workplace. We have seen this first-hand during the past months when the pandemic forced many of us to work remotely from home. It is an aspect that is here to stay. The third category of "key non-digital job skills" will likewise affect us all. This refers to traditional skills such as problem-solving abilities, creative thinking, or initiative. The importance of these skills will continue to increase in the course of digital transformation.
The COVID-19-based workplace limitations and widespread working from home has given us all a glimpse of the future of work. We should see this as an incredible personal growth opportunity, and it should inspire us to acquire and sharpen the new skills we need in the future.
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Which qualifications and skills will be most important to future-proof a workforce in light of the ongoing digital transformation? Which new skills will I, as an employee, need to acquire? These are important questions that will also play an increasing role in medical technology companies.
How is the skilled labor shortage reflected in companies?
Mischner & Venzke: Kienbaum teamed up with SPECTARIS, the German industry association, and conducted the "Digital Jobs@Medizintechnik" study. Nearly 87 percent of the surveyed companies stated that digitization is very important to them – but only 30 percent feel ready and prepared for the transformation. We found that functions that are highly affected by agile and digital methods and processes – IT, research & development, and production – are especially impacted and face a skills shortage. Demand for a specific skill definitely exceeds the available supply in this case. Then again, there are some areas that have traditionally processed and analyzed complex data sets, which includes finance, controlling or procurement. They are presently the fields that are least affected by skills shortage.
All told, digital transformation is demanding and forces businesses to change and adapt. According to our findings, most companies are still in a phase where they try to find ways to address the skills shortage and take a "more is better" approach. They invest in career training, continuing education, employer branding, and recruiting. What is interesting is that remuneration, incentives, and reward systems are far down the list of company measures. Businesses invest in human capital, not in the employees' wallets. Big data and cloud computing will increase the demand for skilled workers and create new jobs – making companies feel the effects of skilled labor shortage even more in the future.
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Mischner & Venzke: Traditionally, when companies address skilled labor shortage, they always wonder, "How do I attract coveted employees with the key digital skills"? Companies typically look and recruit outside to meet short-term needs. However, this reactive approach falls short in times when companies must compete for top digital talents in an employee-driven labor market. They should look at internal talents instead and focus on fostering and developing their key digital skills. Of course, this approach takes patience and persistence and forward-thinking strategies. These investments also show little to no immediate "return" and cannot be measured with common metrics. But it ultimately pays off in many ways; most notably in satisfied and loyal employees, who feel appreciated and valued thanks to increased employee training and development – a true competitive advantage! Fortunately, it appears that businesses are starting to cultivate a growth mindset in this case. The "Digital Jobs@Medizintechnik" study reveals that businesses in the healthcare sector are discovering the growing importance and benefits of professional development. To help employees achieve this goal, companies actively engage in employee growth, give employees time, and devote financial resources – expecting them to also use their own spare time to learn new skills. All told, this shows that the often-cited concept of 'lifelong learning' is more than just lip service. It is a fundamental idea that should never be underestimated.
The interview was conducted by Elena Blume and translated from German by Elena O'Meara. MEDICA-tradefair.com