[Press Release] GMGI Hosts Inaugural Education & Workforce Development Conference

(GLOUCESTER, MA) On Friday, November 12th, life sciences industry and education leaders from throughout the Commonwealth gathered at GMGI’s Gloucester Biotechnology Academy in its new state-of-the-art biomanufacturing learning lab for the organization’s first annual Education and Workforce Development Conference.

This 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.

The conference gathered leaders from throughout the Commonwealth to discuss strategies for creating a workforce development solution that will bridge the biomanufacturing talent gap projected in the next three years. A keynote address was delivered by Mass Life Sciences Center CEO, Kenn Turner, who spoke to the importance creating and strengthening partnerships between industry and education providers to address skills gaps by aligning training with industry needs. Turner was joined by Mark Fuller, Undersecretary of Business Growth in the Governor’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, who provided an overview of new funding sources created to support innovative workforce development in the coming 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 Kenn.

In addition to GMGI and MLSC, participants included CEOs, Executive Directors, academic Deans and others who joined from Ginkgo Bioworks, MassBio, Berkshire Innovation Center, New England Biolabs, LabCentral Ignite, Mass Medical Device Industry Council, Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, Northeastern University, WPI, North Shore InnoVentures, Just A Start, MassBioEd, MassBay Community College and Quincy College, among others. There was an atmosphere of collaboration and inspiration throughout the day as 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.

“I was honored to join Massachusetts’ leaders in the life sciences at GMGI to discuss innovative ways to address the life sciences talent gap. The energy of the day was both exciting and motivating as we considered how to develop and provide work-aligned talent development programs and to provide a distinct and clear career pathway accessible to all.  I applaud both GMGI and MLSC on convening these key opinion leaders and look forward to the continued collaboration as we aim to support continued growth in biotechnology throughout the entire Commonwealth,” said attendee Jared Auclair, Associate Dean of Professional Programs & Graduate Affairs at Northeastern University.

Chris Bolzan, GMGI’s Executive Director, remarked “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. 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 yet 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.

 

Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute is a non-profit enterprise that is conducting world-class marine biotechnology research which expands the regional economy. GMGI’s Gloucester Biotechnology Academy, a 10-month certificate training program to train recent high school graduates for careers as lab technicians, recently graduated its fifth class. Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute’s state-of-the-art research institute on Gloucester harbor opened in 2018 and is located at 417 Main Street.

 

Photo credit: Jon Sachs