Growth and Career Opportunities in the Medtech Industry in the West of Ireland

Niall from our technical team discusses the Medtech industry in the West of Ireland and the opportunities that await professionals in the sector.

The Medtech Industry in Galway

With over 29,000 highly skilled medtech professionals currently employed nationwide, Ireland’s medical technologies industry is the second largest employer in Europe and is recognized as a Centre of Excellence globally. This is due in no small part to the rapid expansion of the medical technology industry in the west of the country, with Galway becoming a hub for some of the largest players within medical devices.  Having already attracted the likes of Medtronic, Boston Scientific and Creganna to the region, many new medical technology companies have established in Galway in recent times.

In the long term this will bring increasing levels of employment and investment to Galway and the wider region. Medtronic’s facility in Galway is a “centre of excellence” for the manufacture and development of their key medical technologies. Galway’s location and the availability of skilled professionals has the ability to attract global companies such as Boston Scientific, Merit Medical and Creganna Medical.

The success in Galway of companies such as Medronic and Boston Scientific has also attracted other companies to come to the region. In more recent years we have seen a wave of start-ups put down roots in Galway and its surrounding areas.  John Breslin, an online entrepreneur who advises some local start-ups and who is also a senior lecturer at NUI Galway, summed up the situation beautifully. “If Ireland is Europe’s new Silicon Valley, Galway is its San Francisco.”

There have been a number of reasons for this expansion. Firstly, the availability of skilled graduates from local colleges such as NUI Galway and GMIT which has attracted companies to establish bases in the region. Infrastructure is no longer a problem either. The development of the motorway means Dublin is now only 2 hours away, meaning meetings with key stakeholders is not an issue. “Galway? Dublin? I deal mostly with US people and they see it all as the one thing,” said Mic Fitzgerald, founder of OnePageCRM, an online customer management software firm in Galway city.

So it seems like a no-brainer that those looking to pursue a career in the medical devices or biotechnology industries should be looking to head west for the next move? Unfortunately, this is not always the case. As a Technical Recruitment Consultant for the Midlands and West, I work with a number of companies within these areas and one of my biggest challenges is finding people with the necessary skills, qualifications and experience willing to re-locate west.

Why is this happening?

The West of Ireland has always had a legacy of out-migration to the bigger cities in search of employment opportunities. Many candidates feel career opportunities are mainly in the bigger cities and surrounding hinterlands like Dublin and Cork. Perhaps there is still a stigma that Dublin in particular is ‘the place to be’ in order to chase ‘The Irish Dream’.

Likewise, numerous studies and surveys have found that on average salaries in Dublin tend to be higher than the rest of the country and this may be playing a part in people’s decisions on where to base themselves.

This has resulted in a skills shortage in the region for some skilled positions such as Process Engineers, Quality Engineers, Manufacturing Engineers and Automation Engineers. Skills shortages in the region is a major issue facing companies who are looking to attract the very best to their organisations.

Look At The Bigger Picture

There is no doubt that salary will play a major part in any individual’s career choice but in my opinion professionals within the Medtech industry need to look at the bigger picture.

Firstly, we need to take into account the cost of living of locating in Galway and the surrounding areas versus Dublin. Expatistan, a fantastic website that compares the cost of living between cities across the world, states that it costs a whopping 23% less to live in Galway versus Dublin! The primary difference here is the cost of either buying a house or renting accommodation in the west of the country, with rent being up to 29% lower in Galway. So while salaries in Dublin may be higher, many professionals may be in a better position financially by heading West.

Galway also has a lot to offer candidates in addition to career opportunities such as a vibrant city, events and festivals, a rich culture, the “wild Atlantic Way” and excellent nightlife and entertainment venues. Between NUI Galway and the Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway has a whopping 26,000 students, which is roughly a third of the area’s population. Such a young and vibrant population means there is always a great buzz about the place no matter what day of the week and as a graduate of NUIG myself, I can definitely vouch for the place!

So with a rapidly expanding medical device and biotech industry that is crying out for highly skilled professionals and a vibrant city full of entertainment that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to live in, there is no doubt that Galway is the place to be at the moment.

Niall is based in our Athlone office and specialises in the recruitment of Engineering and Manufacturing roles in the Midlands and West. If you’d like to discuss your next career move or need assistance with the recruitment of a role, why not give him a call on 09064 90485.

Niall Curley - MedTech Recruiter

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