MassBioEd's Employment Demand Update

November 20, 2013

MassBio and MassBioEd are committed to ensuring that the life sciences industry in Massachusetts has access to the best-prepared life sciences workforce in the world. To work toward this, MassBio and MassBioEd formed the Massachusetts Life Sciences Education Consortium (MLSEC) to convene industry and academia and align higher education curricula with industry’s workforce needs.

This September, MassBioEd released its 2013 Life Sciences Industry Entry-Level Employment Demand Report, which illuminated corporate hiring preferences for entry level jobs and indicated heightened future hiring needs in Administrative and IT functions for the life sciences.

MLSEC drew leaders from industry, academia, and the public sector to develop the survey, which was designed to identify the scope and depth of worker shortfall and the skill sets industry needs in
future life sciences workers. Companies were asked 13 questions focusing on the current distribution of the existing workforce, projected need for hiring new employees within the next 12 months and the next three years, and degree preferences for various positions.

One key report finding demonstrated that there is a spoken bias toward the bachelor degree when it comes to hiring a new employee in the life sciences in Massachusetts. Data showed, however, that companies continue to hire associate degree holders. The survey results also suggested larger companies tend to hire a greater number of associate graduates than smaller companies. The study indicated there is potential for the hiring of more associate degree graduates under the
proper circumstances.

The report also found that there is a near-universal expectation of prior experience, even when hiring at the entry level. Experience, developed through internships or co-op programs, is critical for candidates seeking a position in the industry.

In the survey, companies were also asked to share which positions are most difficult to fill in order to identify possible areas where demand may be outpacing supply of new talent. The most common responses included positions in research, sales, administrative and IT functions.

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Industry Entry-Level Employment Demand Report outlines a number of recommendations for future initiatives to help community colleges increase their graduates’ image and value to life sciences companies. A few highlights include:

  • Increase the clarity of academic pathways that align with industry career pathways.
  • Increase relationships and collaboration opportunities between community college faculty/administration and corporate scientist and hiring managers.
  • Increase the recognition and credibility of community college programming by embarking on a second round of industry endorsements of life sciences certificate and associate degree programs.

To see the full 2013 Life Sciences Industry Entry-Level Employment Demand Report and its recommendations, visit

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