This post was originally published by Worker Empowerment to the City of Boston’s website on March 21, 2023.
The Worker Empowerment Cabinet collaborated with the Mayor’s Office and the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio) to convene a summit of life science companies, education and training providers, and community organizations at Southline, the former Boston Globe complex. The industry was represented by a range of biotech companies, including Alnylam, Biogen, Ginkgo Bioworks, Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, and Vertex.
Mayor Wu addressed the assembly and announced her initiative to place 1,000 Boston residents into good careers in biotech over the next two years. She called on companies to commit to these hires and on the others to recruit, support, and train people to thrive in these jobs. She expressed the City’s commitment to help with curriculum and the other elements needed for success.
There was a lively discussion of what has been working well, including a biotech apprenticeship created by MassBioEd, a partner of the Office of Workforce Development. More importantly, the Mayor listened closely to industry representatives and community members describe what is needed to increase the pace and scale of training and placement.
“All these partners will need to work together,” said Dr. Alicia Sasser Modestino, Research Director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, “to create multiple on ramps and off ramps to training and employment.” In addition to gaining technical know-how, candidates will benefit from opportunities to develop essential workplace skills. Wraparound support will be critical. And, life science companies will have to take a good look at their hiring and onboarding practices to remove arbitrary barriers.”
MassBio CEO and President Kendalle Burlin O’Connell expressed her enthusiasm for the initiative: “Mayor Wu and her team convened an impressive group of leaders, during the busy holiday season, to discuss a topic that is a shared and urgent priority. The conversation was focused on solutions and taking collaborative action and we look forward to working closely with the Mayor and the Worker Empowerment Cabinet to meet the ambitious goals.”
MassBio also announced its plan to create a short term training program to be offered at Southline.