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MA life sciences workforce grows 131 percent, recommendations outlined to continue momentum

June 02, 2022

Moving away from four-year degree programs and toward apprenticeships is one of the recommendations to help ease the workforce shortage experience in the life sciences industry. This and other recommendations are part of a recently released report from the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, also known as MassBio, on workforce trends in the life sciences industry in Massachusetts. The report also offers recommendations for short- and long-term solutions and strategies for building the workforce in the life sciences industry in Massachusetts that might have applicability in other regions.

The labor market for the life sciences industry in Massachusetts grew by 131 percent between 2006 and 2021, while the overall statewide labor market only increased by about 6.9 percent, according to the report. The report identified a gap between the skills and experience expected and available to firms. While talent competition continues to be high, firms use methods like higher wages, improved benefits, and hybrid work to attract and retain talent. About seven in 10 surveyed firms said they prefer entry-level applicants with bachelor's degrees; however, only 58.8 percent require a bachelor's degree. About 43.2 percent of surveyed firms showed a particular interest in apprenticeship programs.

Based on these findings, MassBio developed both short- and long-term recommendations to continue growing the life sciences industry in Massachusetts. Short-term solutions include adding biopharma modules to four-year degree programs, increasing lab experience, expanding internship programs at life science companies, and growing role-specific certification programs. Longer-term recommendations encourage moving away from four-year degree programs and toward apprenticeship programs, especially for manufacturing. Additional recommendations focus on making the life science workforce more diverse through partnerships with minority-serving institutions, developing a central workforce institute managed by MassBio, and gaining additional financial support from the state.

Download the full 2022 Life Science Workforce Analysis Report here.

Massachusettsworkforce, life sciences