MTPConnect Report Uncovers Skills Priorities for a Future Ready Workforce

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10 March 2021

MTPConnect today released the second of three reports examining skills gaps in the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical (MTP) sector workforce.

The reports are being developed as part of the Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) initiative, operated by MTPConnect for the Medical Research Future Fund.

MTPConnect Managing Director and CEO, Dr Dan Grant, said the new research which was carried out in the second half of 2020 has identified 20 priority skills gaps.

“The MTP sector is already Australia’s 8th largest export sector and a major contributor to the Australian economy, but we need to understand where the skills gaps are so we can build the workforce that will power the next wave of innovation and growth,” Dr Grant said.

“In a time of rapid change, advancements in areas such as precision medicine, digital health solutions and regenerative medicine supported by advanced manufacturing technologies present exciting growth opportunities - if we can develop a future ready workforce.

“Our report - Driving skills development and workforce training for the future MTP workforce - identifies the priority gaps and helps ensure workforce skills are aligned to the current and future needs of the sector. 

“The 20 priority skills gaps identified span seven key themes – advanced manufacturing and supply chain, business operations, clinical trials, health data and cybersecurity, health economics and regulatory affairs, product development and commercialisation and specialist and technical skills.

“In order for Australia’s MTP sector to continue its strong growth trajectory, the workforce will need to retain and evolve skills in current areas of competitive advantage, while also developing new skills that are aligned with these emerging areas.”

Priority Skills Gaps for the MTP Sector

  1. Understanding of quality management systems and protocols
  2. Manufacturing expertise in high-tech and/or specialised medtech devices
  3. Manufacturing expertise in high-value therapeutics at a commercial scale
  4. Shortage of MTP-specific project managers to support start-ups and early-stage spin-offs
  5. Strategic design of clinical trials to meet regulatory and payer needs
  6. Shortage of experienced clinical research associates (CRAs)
  7. Shortage of clinical trial coordinators (CTCs)
  8. Leadership awareness of best-practice management in cybersecurity
  9. Shortage of cybersecurity professionals and IT infrastructure resilience skills
  10. Understanding of and expertise in big data capture, management and analysis
  11. Expertise in the design and use of artificial intelligence
  12. Shortage of skills in health informatics
  13. Awareness and understanding of regulatory requirements amongst start-ups and SMEs
  14. Shortage of experienced health economist
  15. Shortage of industry professionals with end-to-end translation and commercialisation experience
  16. Identifying unmet market need and understanding the clinical context
  17. Ability to secure investment, funding and/or industry collaboration
  18. Identification of the payer and understanding of reimbursement pathways and requirements
  19. Shortage of skills in bioinformatics (particularly in genomics)
  20. Shortage of pharmacologists and toxicologists with drug development expertise

The Driving skills development and workforce training for the future MTP workforce report is the second of three skills gap reports, with the first, an interim report, published in November 2020 and a third ‘refresh’ report to be delivered in late 2021.

The report was prepared in partnership with L.E.K. Consulting and involved engagement with more than 200 stakeholders from across the MTP sector. It also incorporates the findings of the workforce skills and capacity review undertaken by MTPConnect in July 2020 and analysis of MTP sector jobs posted from 2017-19 on the SEEK recruitment platform.

MTPConnect is driving the development of bespoke solutions to address key skills gaps through the REDI initiative and today opened a call for proposals under Round 2 of the REDI Contestable Program.

REDI is calling for proposals for training and/or education training programs, to be implemented nationally, that meet specific urgent needs identified in the Driving skills development and workforce training for the future MTP workforce report. 

  • Proposal 1: Identifying unmet market need and understanding the clinical context (Skills gap #16)
  • Proposal 2: Ability to secure investment, funding and/or industry collaboration (Skills gap #17)

The Driving skills development and workforce training for the future MTP workforce Report and details on how to apply for Round 2 of the REDI Contestable Program are available from MTPConnect’s website. Submissions for the RfPs close on Friday 9 April 2021.

An information session will be held via webinar on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 at 2:00pm-3:30pm AEDT to provide further details of the application process and guidelines for Round 2.

MTPConnect’s REDI initiative is a four-year, $32 million initiative funded by the MRFF. It is an integrated, three-pillar plan that involves working with partners from research, training and industry to influence skills development, workforce training and integration between research, industry and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.