Skills shortage predicted in Massachusetts

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Life sciences Life

Massachusetts needs to do more to produce workers for its life sciences industry if it is to avoid a skills shortage in years to come, according to research.

The study, “Growing Talent: Meeting the Evolving Needs of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Industry​,” highlights areas that the state needs to improve if it is to build upon its position as a biotech hub.

Massachusetts has committed itself to an ambitious biotech expansion but the report concludes it must alter its educational infrastructure to ensure an adequate supply of workers.

Dr Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, said: "Massachusetts' world-class workforce is the number one reason that life sciences companies and research institutions grow or locate in the state​.

"The Commonwealth needs to build upon its strengths if it is to remain the world leader in discoveries, patient care, and private sector investment in the life sciences​.”

Adopting a business-as-usual scenario the report predicted that around 11,000 new life sciences jobs will be created between 2006 and 2014.

This does not take into account jobs generated by the $1bn Life Sciences Initiative investment or the recent expansions by Novartis, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Organogenesis. The report found that 85 per cent of life science employers expect to expand in the next two years.

Even at its current size the Massachusetts life sciences sector does not find it easy to find employees, according to the report.

With regards to manufacturing over 50 per cent of respondents said it is moderately difficult to find employees, with around 10 per cent saying it is very difficult.

The situation when recruiting clinical research staff is said to be considerably worse, with over 50 per cent of respondents finding it very difficult to find suitable employees.

Areas to improve

Of the jobs that will be created in the Massachusetts life sciences sector it is predicted that 81.4 per cent will require a bachelors degree or higher.

Consequently the report highlights the need for the state to produce and retain more graduate students with interdisciplinary training covering science, business, mathematics and legal and regulatory affairs.

In addition, the technical training providing by the state should be more targeted towards the needs of the life sciences sector, which is growing around 45 per cent quicker than any other industry in Massachusetts.

The complete report can be found here​.

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