Luke Moran, Aerotek

Growth in Medical Devices Spurs Recruitment Challenges

By Luke Moran
Luke Moran, Aerotek

In addition, in workforce optimization, retention plays an equally important role as recruitment.

Fueled by a near-constant stream of advancements in technologies and treatments, increased healthcare spending and a strong economy, the medical device industry is growing dramatically with no end in sight. By 2021, the global market for medical devices is expected to top $500 billion.

To fully harness the promise of medical devices, manufacturers need to continue producing advanced devices with speed, precision and regulatory compliance. However, the country is experiencing the lowest unemployment rate in nearly five decades, making talent acquisition and retention a major challenge. Understaffing, overtime and reduced production are all unpalatable choices, so how can medical device manufacturers align their staffing strategies with the supply and demand of the current marketplace?

Growing Demand for Specialists

Growing demand for products has spawned an increased need for specialized industry talent. To win the war for talent, employers are enhancing their hiring strategies to recruit quality candidates, especially in the following key areas.

Biostatistics. The growth of the medical device industry is also driving up demand for biostatisticians, who build the clinical algorithms that support device design and interpret the collection, summarization and analysis of data. The rise of Big Data has increased the need for statisticians across industries, but specialized professionals who can confirm the validity of medical device study information are in particular demand. In some cases, they’re competing for talent not only with other medical device developers but also with other industries.

Governance and compliance. Navigating complex regulatory guidelines and approvals is another critical area of medical device manufacturing. In the past, U.S. manufacturers were able to take advantage of less-stringent regulations in Europe and launched first there to gather data that would help build the case to get FDA approval.

More recently, however, the European Union has tightened its regulations for new products and required existing products to adhere to the new EU MDR, which means going back through legacy products and updating them to be compliant. The new regulations have made the approval process more complicated, which can be a serious challenge in a time when first-to-market products have a significant advantage. That has led to a demand for quality engineering and quality assurance positions as well auditor and analyst positions to help keep programs on track.

Medical device assembly. Just a few years ago, most manufacturers wanted at least two to three years of experience in medical device or cleanroom assembly. Now, they’re seeing the value in hiring less-experienced workers who have aptitude and training them for six to eight weeks to ensure they are prepared. However, labor is also in short supply among this population, meaning that market-rate compensation is crucial.

Other positions in high demand include a broad range of engineering specialties, including robotics/controls, electrical, software, hardware and embedded systems. With unemployment rates among the lowest of all professions, engineers are especially difficult to recruit.

Recruiting Strategies for This Economy

  • As U.S. median wages rise, the importance of offering competitive compensation for the markets you’re in and the skill sets you need cannot be overstated. Qualified candidates have multiple options—and maybe even offers—and are increasingly reluctant to compromise on what salary will make them accept your job. You risk being outbid on your preferred candidates.
  • It’s also crucial to make sure your company has developed and communicated a strong employee value proposition (EVP). Ensure job candidates know what makes your organization a good place to work. Is it culture? Teamwork? Opportunities for advancement?
  • For many in the medical devices field, outcomes are a powerful motivator. Helping a new product get to market, where it can cure illnesses or even save lives, offers a unique opportunity to be involved in something really meaningful. If you’re competing outside the industry, that could be a key differentiator.
  • Your current employees can be a useful source for new referrals. People are naturally inclined to place more credence in first-hand knowledge they receive from someone they trust.

While you may be focusing significant efforts on new hires, know that retention plays nearly as large a role in workforce optimization as recruitment. Quit rates are at their highest level in years, which indicates that more workers believe they can score better—or just better-paying—jobs. A high attrition rate can put your core mission in jeopardy and harm your company’s reputation in the employment marketplace.


The medical device industry is driven by innovation and talent. New products are released and almost immediately have built-up demand, so there’s a huge incentive for manufacturers to invest in the resources that will ensure they can meet demand with a quality product.

As the industry continues to thrive, the economic stakes are increasingly high. Having a strategic recruitment and retention program can help ensure your company has built the foundation for the design, development and distribution of medical devices.

About The Author

Luke Moran, Aerotek