Jun 1, 2023 - News

Boston training program to target 100 people for biotech jobs

A rendering of MassBio's new workforce training center in Dorchester. Credit: Beacon Capital Partners

MassBio’s plans to open a training center in the old Boston Globe building in Dorchester are taking shape through a new nonprofit arm called Bioversity.

What’s happening: Bioversity plans to launch in January and run 8-to-12-week training sessions for anyone with a high school degree or a GED interested in entry-level biotech jobs, Zach Stanley, the nonprofit’s executive director, tells Axios.

  • The nonprofit aims to graduate 100 people within the first year, with five cohorts of 20 people, Stanley says.

Why it matters: Biodiversity is the latest training program recruiting locals for lab operations jobs and other entry-level roles in the life sciences sector, one of Greater Boston’s fastest-growing and best-paying industries.

  • In Dorchester, Bioversity is tapping into a historically ignored workforce: relatively low- and middle-income workers in a neighborhood where the majority of residents are Black, Latino and Southeastern Asian, per city estimates.

The big picture: The biotech sector in Massachusetts grew 14.6% between 2019 and 2022, outpacing the national average, according to a report published yesterday from the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation. But there are more biotech job openings than there are qualified workers to fill those jobs.

  • Biotech companies still emphasize college degrees and “demonstrated competencies” when hiring for entry-level roles, making those jobs out of reach for many workers without relevant experience.

Zoom in: The inaugural curriculum will include three parts: career exploration, technical skills training and soft skills training.

  • The technical training aims to show people what day-to-day lab work looks like.
  • The nonprofit partnered with the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences to develop the curriculum, though the organizations haven’t determined who will teach the courses.

Stanley says the training will not only prepare locals for biotech jobs, but also give them a leg up if they wish to pursue a college degree or additional certification.

  • Bioversity is still in the planning stages, but Stanley envisions the nonprofit one day offering continuing education or “upskilling” programs for biotech workers.
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