Bay State Banner: New ‘Bioversity’ aims to diversify biotech workforce with free training program

Oct 05, 2023

By Avery Bleichfeld, Reporter, Bay State Banner

The following is an excerpt from a story that ran on the front page of the Bay State Banner on October 5, 2023:

A new training program in the life sciences aims to bring more people from diverse backgrounds into biotechnology as the industry’s need to fill jobs increases.

The Bioversity program, a nonprofit offshoot of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio), will be based out of the old Boston Globe headquarters in Dorchester and promises students hands-on experience to help prepare them for lab operations jobs in an eight-week course intended to serve as an alternative to a college degree.

Using a curriculum developed by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), with feedback from companies in the industry, Bioversity aims to prepare people for entry-level jobs.

The training program joins at least three other freestanding ones in operation or development designed to diversify the industry’s workforce in the Boston area.

Zach Stanley, executive director of Bioversity, said now is a good time to get into the life sciences.

“The reason you want to do this is the demand for jobs in the biotech industry in Boston and beyond is growing very rapidly,” Stanley said as part of his pitch at an information session for the program Sept. 25. “The opportunity for a good paying job, with full benefits, awaits you upon completion of our program, and that’s really what we’re here for.”

The program will offer opportunities for people who either don’t want to or can’t afford to attend a four-year college the opportunity to develop skills to start a career.

It also offers individuals in dead-end jobs a chance to start a new career, said Andrea Swain, chief impact officer at the Boys and Girls Club of Boston.

“College is becoming just out of the realm of some high school graduates because of the cost factor, the barriers around transportation and cost and navigating being a first-generation student, and so a viable option may be to go into the workforce,” said Swain, who attended the information session with a handful of participants, parents and alumni from Boys and Girls Club programs.

Stanley said the training program aims to draw a diverse selection of students to bolster a growing demand for a growing workforce in the life sciences industry. He called that push “almost purely a numbers game.”

“We should not, as a state or as an industry, be looking towards people moving to Massachusetts to get jobs or otherwise,” Stanley said. “We should be looking first and foremost to talent we know is here already and give them the opportunity and proper training and education really thrive in this industry.”

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