Name of Network: Irish Medtech Skillnet
Number of members: 500+
Sector(s) covered: Medical technologies and related sectors
Year established: 2008
Describe what your Skillnet Business Network does and how it came about?
The Irish Medtech Skillnet was established in 2008, in partnership with Skillnet Ireland and its promoting organisation, the Irish Medtech Association, an Ibec Trade Association. As Ireland is one of five global Medtech hubs, the primary objective of the Skillnet Business Network was to respond to the specific unmet talent development needs of the medical technology sector. The mission of the Irish Medtech Skillnet is to enhance and reinforce Ireland’s position as a global medical technology hub by supporting the development of a strong talent base.
Can you outline one important way your Business Network impacts positively on your sector?
Since 2008, the Irish Medtech Skillnet has worked collaboratively with highly regulated companies to develop and deliver over 50 niche industry-led programmes for people in employment and the unemployed. We have a long-established relationship with the sector and with the Irish Medtech Association, therefore we are at the forefront of developing talent development programmes and frameworks that support organisations to meet the global and local challenges that the sector faces.
What has been the most transformative initiative in your sector in the last year?
In May 2021, the Medical Device Regulation came into force in the European Union, which governs the standards of getting devices to market. With this, a high bar is set for demonstrating safety, efficacy, and clinical benefit. Although the industry has made significant investments – and this is evident by the volume of people that have gone through our Quality and Regulations programmes, from industry-led fundamentals programmes to Masters level in Medical Technology Regulatory Affairs with IT Sligo and NUI Galway – there is more support needed from policymakers to ensure the appropriate infrastructure is in place.
Another transformative initiative is the digitalisation of industrial processes and procedures which continues to be a challenging and evolving area. The Irish Medtech Skillnet has developed the Masters in Digitalisation of Manufacturing with LIT to develop the capacity of employees for today’s digitalisation challenges.
Women in tech is another area of transformation we support through our ReLaunch programme for experienced women considering returning to the workplace and the Women in Technology Leadership programme that we are currently developing to support the sector.
What latest trends do you see emerging within your industry?
A key trend we are seeing across the broader talent development and learning discipline is how we approach programme development. For example, at the start of the pandemic, we were developing a programme called realise your R&D ambition. A programme of this nature would typically consist of an intense face to face networking element. Due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic, we have managed to deliver a highly successful online interactive programme, adapting to our “new normal” environment.
For the sector specifically trends around digitalisation of industrial processes and new technologies such as additive manufacturing continue, while emerging trends for 2021/2022 are clearly focused on sustainability, innovation within connected healthcare, new models of supply chains and talent.
How is your Network using technology to facilitate learning and development programmes?
The Irish Medtech Skillnet is now developing programmes on our new eLearning platform. This will enable the Network to meet the needs of the industry, especially where flexible working arrangements of staff are now the norm.
Additionally, we are also working very closely with our industry Steering Committee and the Working Groups within the Irish Medtech Association, to develop an interactive talent pipeline framework that will work in alignment with the Enterprise Excellence Framework (such as the MóRTM model) to support industry in the challenges they face with increasing skills shortages in all sectors.
What skills do you think are most important for a small business owner/manager?
It is challenging for small business owner/managers to undertake all the tasks of managing their business and keeping up to date with current trends and skills needs. This is especially difficult with the vast quantities of highly specialised information available today. Therefore, it is increasingly important for owner/managers to develop their own skills as a leader and to create a vision and strategy for the business. Working through their leadership team, they must empower management to develop behaviours and competencies to realise the business strategy in this changing world of work. Furthermore, having the expertise to identify skills gaps for the business is a critical success factor so it is very important that owner/managers have the awareness to look outside the business for solutions and support.
Do you have any advice for a business that is considering joining a Skillnet Business Network?
All Skillnet Business Networks are established to meet the talent development needs of businesses, large and small. Developing industry-led programmes is the core objective of the Skillnet Business Network model. All Networks deliver high quality, highly subsidised upskilling and talent development programmes that are aligned to business needs.
I would encourage a business to talk to the network personnel and to look across the 73 Skillnet Business Networks as there are many different programme offerings to choose from. There is no limitation on a business on the number of Skillnet Business Networks they can engage with.
We are here to support businesses in any way we can and for further information on the Irish Medtech Skillnet please visit our website. irishmedtechskillnet.ie