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10,000 New Life Sciences Jobs Expected in Massachusetts by 2014

The demand for highly qualified talent in Massachusetts' bioscience industry will add more than 10,000 life sciences workers to the state's workforce by 2014, according to a recent report prepared by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. As described in Growing Talent: Meeting the Evolving Needs of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Industry, 81 percent of these new life sciences jobs are expected to require at least a four-year degree. In preparation for this need, the report identifies the key challenges for increasing the quality and number of potential employees in the state, as well as policy recommendations for future growth.

Outlined are the expected top ten occupations for growth in the life science field, which illustrates just how varied the needs are within the industry. Medical scientists are projected to increase in number the most, with over 900 new hires, followed by systems software engineers, lawyers, computer systems analysts, and application-based software engineers. Not included in these projections are downstream jobs estimated by multiplier effects, nor are jobs associated with the state's $1 billion Life Science Initiative (see the June 18, 2008 issue of the Digest), announced earlier this summer.

By surveying employers in the field, the authors found two areas - clinical research staff and legal and regulatory staff - were deemed very difficult or moderately difficult to staff by more than 80 percent of employers. Alternatively, the difficulty of finding computer specialists to employ was affirmed by less than 50 percent of surveyed employers.

Recommendations to improve the training and experiences of the state's graduate, undergraduate, technical schools, and K-12 students include the following, among others:

  • More universities should develop Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree programs, which combine life sciences education with business and management training;    
  • New certificate programs should be offered in subjects such as clinical research, regulatory affairs, and quality control; and,    
  • Companies should partner with community colleges to develop targeted two-year training programs.

Read article: Growing Talent: Meeting the Evolving Needs of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Industry

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