In this interview with MEDICA-tradefair.com, Dr. Peter Quick talks about recruiting challenges and career opportunities in the lab industry, describes cultural differences and explains what they mean for graduates.
Dr. Quick, we are talking about the MEDICA LABMED FORUM and more specifically the session titled "Young scientists meet innovative industries". My first question is: Does the laboratory industry face recruiting challenges?
Dr. Peter Quick: It does on the whole, though we must also differentiate. One interesting example in the context of the MEDICA LABMED FORUM is laboratory medicine specialists. They are key to address the full scope of services the public needs from laboratory medicine. This field has a critical skills shortage problem.
According to a VDGH member survey, the industry has a significant shortage of skilled workers, which is growing every year. Nearly 80 percent of member companies have attested to this in 2019.
That's also because our small and medium-sized member companies compete for talent with big pharmaceutical companies and leading publicly funded research institutes and units like the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers, the Fraunhofer Institutes and Research Establishments and the Max Planck Society. They are very well-known and attractive employers. We, the laboratory sector – and this is one of the goals we set for the LABMED FORUM – have to make today's students aware of the broad spectrum of career possibilities as early as possible.
What role does skilled worker immigration play in this setting?
Quick: We see the role it plays in the current Brexit debate for example. Until now, the United Kingdom was especially well-positioned to connect internationally because European funding has supported the country in its internationalism. This aspect now suffers due to Brexit, greatly benefiting continental European countries, as both the path of international students and funding will redirect toward the mainland.
Which current trends dominate the laboratory industry sector and thus career opportunities?
Quick: Clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine increasingly focus on topics such as biobanks, bioinformatics, molecular biology and molecular diagnostics, as well as clinical mass spectrometry. Medical or health informatics is becoming increasingly important as it relates to big data. Added to this are important research fields such as proteomics and metabolomics, next generation sequencing, immunotherapy, gene and cell therapy.