Life sciences industry and education leaders from across Massachusetts gathered recently in Gloucester for the first Education and Workforce Development Conference.

Hosted by Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute (GMGI) at its new Gloucester Biotechnology Academy bio-manufacturing learning lab, conference attendees discussed strategies for creating a workforce development solution that will bridge the biomanufacturing talent gap projected in the next three years.

“Now more than ever it is essential the ecosystem begins responding to the state’s current and projected workforce demand. Working with our partners in industry, academia, and government, we can expand and enhance the biomanufacturing workforce pipeline to effectively meet the hiring needs of employers in all regions of the Commonwealth. Together, we can crack the code for the biomanufacturing talent gap,” said Massachusetts Life Sciences Center CEO Kenn Turner.

The event was sponsored by the Cummings Foundation, which awarded GMGI $100,000 this June to support GMGI’s efforts to catalyze the regional economy and create a vibrant science community on Cape Ann.

In addition to GMGI and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, participants included CEOs, executive directors, academic deans and others from Ginkgo Bioworks, MassBio, Berkshire Innovation Center, New England Biolabs, LabCentral Ignite, Mass Medical Device Industry Council, Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, Northeastern University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, North Shore InnoVentures, Just A Start, MassBioEd, MassBay Community College and Quincy College, among others.

Through collaboration and inspiration throughout the day, solutions were strategized around topics including funding frameworks, aligning industry and education, building successful career pathways, and addressing the need for greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the life sciences.

“We are grateful for the participation of this critical group of workforce development thought leaders who are committed to creating an innovative, unprecedented collaboration that will help close the anticipated talent gap,” said Chris Bolzan, GMGI’s executive director, in a prepared release. “A comprehensive strategy that can proliferate regionally and leverage all of our best practices should emerge from our work and this conference was a start of something special for Massachusetts.”

The group discussed the need to “break the bachelor’s barrier” to forge career pathways for roles that do not require a degree and offer on-ramps to the thriving life sciences when coupled with exceptional training and mentorship. With groundwork laid and new connections established, a working group led by Turner will convene with representatives from academia, industry, government and non-profits to establish a talent pipeline to respond the state’s projected needs in the life sciences and biotechnology.

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