Q&A With Peter Abair

Mar 02, 2016

Why is MassBioEd undertaking a new Job Trends initiative?

MassBio’s Impact 2020 report identified a challenge for companies as they grow and thrive in Massachusetts—data on and access to the right workforce. MassBio’s job listings site reached an alltime high in 2015, averaging well over 2,000 listings per day. Anecdotally, industry employers are reporting difficulty in hiring for a variety of positions. Such reports raise concerns that our traditionally strong pipeline of high quality workers is under strain. It is critical for us to better understand the nature of this challenge in growing and attracting the highly-talented workers needed by the industry. That’s where the MassBioEd Foundation’s Job Trends initiative comes in.

What is the state of entrylevel jobs for the life sciences industry in Massachusetts?

In January, we published the first Briefs of our ongoing Digest of Biotechnology Job Trends. The first series of Briefs focused on entry-level job trends which make up 23% of all core job listings in the Massachusetts industry. The Briefs revealed baseline skills that cut across all degree levels, while also identifying the specialized skill requirements of leading job categories at each degree level. Of note, while Associate’s degree level jobs increased as a percentage of total core industry jobs since 2010, only about 300 jobs, or 15% of all entry level job listings, are available to those who hold an Associate’s degree or less. Through this research, we discovered that we must uncover and articulate employers’ expectations for entry level candidates and how academic programs can better align with industry needs.

What do you expect to see out of this initiative in the future? How can companies help?

Our goal is a complete understanding of industry job trends and skill requirements job seekers need. Armed with this knowledge, we can guide industry in their development of job listings and training programs, and engage higher education so that degree programs align with industry needs. It is unchartered territory and MassBioEd looks forward to producing much needed guidance for academia and industry. Companies can help by designating appropriate staff to serve on our Skills Advisory Group. It is this Group that drives the direction of our research. Ideally, members of the Skills Advisory Group will possess a broad range of knowledge about the skills required of prospective job candidates. However, this does not exclude experts who have deep knowledge in more narrow areas or human resources generalists with broad perspectives on candidates in the job market. We hope to have a representation across the sector, from novel drug development companies to contract research to biopharma manufacturing at both small and large companies.

Save the date for MassBioEd’s Conference on Job Trends on May 24, 2016.

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