Commitment to DEI realized in Bioversity application launch

Sep 26, 2023

By Kendalle Burlin O’Connell and Zach Stanley

Bioversity Executive Director Zach Stanley, MassBio CEO & President Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, and partners at the groundbreaking for the Bioversity workforce training center in Dorchester. (Photo by John Wilcox)

Over the last several years, MassBio has made a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’ve coordinated pledges, commissioned studies, and hosted conferences, though perhaps our boldest step yet has been to create Bioversity.

Pledges must be followed by actions. Actions must lead to meaningful change. With the formation of Bioversity and the impending launch of its first training program—Biotech Career Foundationswe are on the precipice of changing lives. Today, September 26, we are not only opening an application portal; we are inviting people to start a journey.

Our goals are big because they must be:

  • Train and place into full-time jobs 100 people who only have a high school degree – people who have historically been left behind by the explosive growth of the life sciences in Massachusetts – in our first year.
  • Create a training space that can be used by others with shared objectives.
  • Better connect employers with Massachusetts talent that is ready and eager to join our rewarding industry.

We want people to get a job that has limitless potential, including generational change. That starts with developing a learner’s technical skills as well as soft skills that they’ll need for successful entry into a life sciences career. But our relationship doesn’t end there. Bioversity’s career placement and post-graduation support services are designed to directly connect graduates with local biopharma companies that are hiring for roles such as lab operations, facilities management, and supply chain and operations.

We need to start somewhere, and that is with up to 24 residents of Dorchester and surrounding Boston neighborhoods completing the free 8-week workforce training program in January of next year at our state-of-the-art lab and classroom facility at Southline Boston. The training course’s curriculum was designed by Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) after many conversations with local employers about their workforce needs; and, the trainings will be taught by MCPHS faculty. This inaugural cohort will be followed by four more over the course of 2024. We also have big plans to go North, West, and South, and to expand our offerings into mid-level talent development and roles in other parts of the sector.

MassBio has always been a convener and a connector. Bioversity is an extension of that mission. We’re forming a community of neighbors, families, instructors, and employers who are all united behind the same goal of deepening and diversifying the life sciences talent pipeline. Will you be a part of this?

Our community partners are many and the City of Boston is on board, but there is a role for MassBio’s 1,600 members to play in this drive toward diversity, equity, and inclusion. The primary need is funding to supplement grants and other private resources. Its uses are many: community engagement campaigns, cohort recruitment and training, weekly stipends for students to offset lost work hours and subsidize expenses like childcare, meals, and tuition vouchers for continuing education.

Our work isn’t done until individuals across the Commonwealth can get the job they want in our industry. Our challenge is to build a workforce that reflects the communities we live and work in and looks like the patients we serve. Together, we can ensure that where industry demand for talent exists, we can match it with people who have the skills and experience necessary to enter and flourish.

Kendalle Burlin O’Connell is CEO and President of MassBio and Board Chair of Bioversity. Zach Stanley is Executive Director of Bioversity.

Get more information: Visit Bioversity’s frequently asked questions (FAQ) page for more details on this exciting new program.

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