April 17, 2020 by Clare Coffey
Electromedical manufacturing is shifting into overdrive to battle COVID-19. These manufacturers supply the tools that medical professionals and hospitals need both at home and around the globe, and play a crucial role in fighting the disease. In fact, the need for critical equipment is so urgent, it has summoned other industries to (at least temporarily) join manufacturing. Ford and GM have teamed up to make ventilators, fashion industry leaders are producing personal protective equipment (PPE), and MyPillow has converted a portion of its manufacturing to making masks.
In this analysis, we examine electromedical manufacturing, the critical sub-field of medical manufacturing that produces these ventilators, respiratory devices, and other equipment. Which states have the most electromedical manufacturing jobs? Which states (and companies) are posting heavily? And what skills do they need?
First, the big picture. Electromedical manufacturing has grown sharply (over 25%) since 2014, driven by increased demand for imaging in the diagnosis and monitoring of chronic diseases.
California has the most electromedical device manufacturing jobs: nearly 20,000 as of this year. Minnesota follows with over 14,000, due in large part to Medical Alley, a huge cluster of medical manufacturers. Medical Alley has truly mobilized to deal with COVID-19, coordinating with its own healthcare partners, the state of Minnesota, and the federal government to deliver much-needed resources to affected communities.
In 2019, Minnesota (4,280) and California (3,269) also had the highest demand for electromedical manufacturing jobs.
We can also look at daily job postings to view trends over shorter time periods. Daily postings can be especially helpful in gauging market responses to sudden change in real time.
Electromedical device manufacturing job postings for the last week of March were lower than they were at the same time last year. This seems counterintuitive, given the narrative of unprecedented needs. Perhaps the demand is so pronounced in one area (as with ventilators) that the need for other equipment is actually down.
Furthermore, it is widely reported that many hospitals are actually struggling to stay afloat and are laying off staff because they’ve had to delay or cancel anything non-COVID-19 related. We can gather from this that, at least initially, the electromedical manufacturing industry is no exception to the wider economic contraction—although it will be interesting to see whether the downward trend holds over the next month or so.
Ventilators are in high demand, and there is concern that we won’t have enough as the coronavirus spikes, which is why Elon Musk recently made headlines by importing 1,200 ventilators from China. Of the companies Musk purchased from—Medtronic, Phillips, and Resmed—Medtronic has a particularly strong presence in the US. The Minneapolis-based company is the biggest electromedical manufacturer in the region and had nearly 25,000 unique job postings in the last year.
Over the next six months, Medtronic plans to significantly ramp up ventilator-production, to the tune of 25,000 ventilators. And ventilators are hardly the only device within the electromedical opus. Medtronic also produces machines that help victims of diabetes, kidney ailments, and other respiratory diseases—equally important in the effort to keep healthcare systems functioning normally.
Other major electromedical manufacturers include Danaher, Masimo, Conmed, Terumo, and GE Healthcare, who also make ventilators and respiratory devices (among other products).
Now let’s dig into the job postings for these companies to better understand their talent needs.
Note that many of the jobs they’re advertising for are not production-related per se. This is fairly typical. First of all, medical device companies are less likely to use online postings to find production labor. And second, as we discovered in our recent report on manufacturing’s comeback, many of the production roles that companies need are actually a hybrid between production, engineering, and business processes. Common job titles can therefore prove somewhat limiting when companies are trying to articulate demand for multifaceted jobs.
But if these companies aren’t posting for production jobs, what are they posting for? We see a lot of sales and account management, software developers, quality assurance engineers, and R&D. Sales in particular might indicate high demand and business growth. These companies are likely fielding orders for a wide variety of consumers, health systems, hospitals, states, and even nations.
Which cities see the most job postings from these electromedical device companies?
Currently, Minneapolis is seeing the greatest demand in terms of total posting numbers, which is unsurprising given Minnesota’s long-standing relationship with Medtronic. Interestingly, Minneapolis leads in terms of total postings, but not in posting intensity—that would be Irvine, California.
Irvine lies near Los Angeles and San Diego, which, as we saw in our recent post Using Regions to Strengthen Skills, are both major hubs of Biotech R&D talent. For every one unique posting, there appears to be six ads, which indicates that Irvine companies are highly motivated to find workers to fill these roles.
And although we see posting hubs in Colorado, Connecticut, and West Virginia, the story remains: Minnesota and California are the real hotspots for electromedical device manufacturing for the US.
If job posting numbers help us approximate the demand for workers, skills can help us understand the type of workers needed by employers. What skills are electromedical manufacturers like Medtronic, Danaher, Masimo, Conmed, Terumo, and GE Healthcare posting for across the US?
The graphs below show the top hard and soft skills sought by these companies. Not surprisingly, the top required hard skill is experience with medical devices. After that we see a wide variety of hard and soft skills related to the creation, management, and sales of these important products: new product development, selling, forecasting, quality management systems, lean manufacturing, corrective and preventative actions, and quality management systems.
If these companies increase the production of respiratory devices, we might expect these skills to become even more prominent in postings. Project management and strategic planning may also play a role as companies coordinate major, urgent changes.
As America battles COVID-19, its homegrown medical device manufacturing base may well prove a key weapon. We could see hotspots like California and Minneapolis upping production and hiring all the more if demand continues to spike. It’s also uplifting to see a mix of technical and human skills in demand, especially with so many Americans needing new jobs. These are resilient skills that can help people today and tomorrow as they look for ways to get back to work.
Check out our webinar “Hope in Hard Times: How You Can Prepare for Recovery Now.” See how the labor market is responding to COVID-19 with our free job posting dashboard. Find more COVID-19 research, tools, and webinars on our COVID-19 resources page.