September 23, 2021 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) – The Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (“MassBioEd”) has launched a new Life Sciences Apprenticeship program. The program, believed to be the first of their kind in the United States, is designed to help expand the availability of trained personnel to meet the needs of a rapidly growing industry; to help diversify the talent available to biomanufacturing and clinical operations in the state; and to strengthen the commitment of many growing life sciences companies to the communities where they operate.

Information about the virtual event that will convene public officials, industry professionals, partners, and the general public to celebrate the launch of the programs, scheduled to convene at 10:30 AM EST today, can be found here: https://www.massbioed.org/event/apprenticeshiplaunch/.

Speakers include: U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh; U.S. Representative Lori Trahan, MA-3; Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta; Kenn Turner, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center; Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, President and COO of MassBio, among others.

Despite the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, biopharma extended its historical employment trend in Massachusetts and grew at a rate of 5.5% in 2020, reaching nearly 84,000 jobs and representing a 55% increase from 2008 – 2020.

Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer are Leadership Sponsors of the Apprenticeship Program. Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is the Builder Sponsor and Alexion Charitable Foundation and ArrantaBio are Innovator Sponsors. Support is also being provided by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

MassBioEd has recruited candidates from under-represented groups in the industry as well as unemployed and under-employed individuals. Through accelerated training, apprentices are expected to gain related scientific knowledge, industry-recognized skills, and work experience. Alumni of the program will be afforded career opportunities at a competitive compensation throughout the industry.

These programs will provide candidates with technical education, on-the-job paid training, and mentorship in the chosen occupations. All candidates will receive three to five months of education and training before being placed in a one-year, full time, paid apprenticeship at participating companies. By participating in this program, companies gain access to work-ready candidates with skills perfectly matched to their needs.

Participating employers for the Biomanufacturing Technician cohort are Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Arranta Bio, Bristol Myers Squibb, MassBiologics, and Pfizer. Participating employers for the Clinical Trial Associate cohort are Agios Pharmaceuticals, Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Blueprint Medicines, Covis Pharma, Halloran Consulting, Jounce Therapeutics, Magenta Therapeutics, Praxis Precision Medicines, Replimune, and Surface Oncology.

Apprentice Programs Expected to Help Solve Shortage of Talent

  • In 2020, Massachusetts life sciences companies employed more than 89,000, an employment base which has grown by 67% over the last decade, and by 4% from 2019 to 2020, double the national industry rate. From 2021 through 2024, the Massachusetts life sciences industry can be expected to generate more than 20,000 new jobs. https://www.massbioed.org/life-sciences-professionals/labor-market-information/
  • In addition to expected growth, Massachusetts is poised to add approximately 20 million new square feet of life sciences real estate, with 8% dedicated to GMP manufacturing facilities. These new spaces alone will require up to 40,000 new jobs across all functional areas, including between 1,600 – 3,200 manufacturing workers.

Strong Massachusetts Industry Support

“Disparities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education have contributed to the widening opportunity gap and a lack of diversity in the life sciences workforce,” said Cathryn Shaw-Reid, Ph.D., vice president, U.S. biologics operations, Bristol Myers Squibb. “We are committed to discovering, developing and manufacturing medicines for patients around the world, and it’s important that our employees appropriately represent our communities and strengthen the industry with diverse perspectives and experiences. Bristol Myers Squibb is proud to work with MassBioEd as a champion of this critical program, and we look forward to supporting the progress of these inspiring participants.”

“We are thrilled to begin this partnership with MassBioEd as lead sponsor of its new apprenticeship program along with several of our industry partners. At Pfizer Andover, we believe that diversity is what drives our innovative spirit, and we are continuously seeking exceptional talent at all levels. This groundbreaking program is a true “win-win” for both organizations, and we are excited to kick it off soon.” Jon Tucker, Pfizer Andover Site Leader.

“The Life Sciences Center is proud to once again partner with MassBioEd and support bringing more citizens of the Commonwealth into the life sciences by offering a streamlined pathway into our thriving industry,” said Massachusetts Life Sciences Center President and CEO Kenn Turner. “Apprenticeships are a potential skeleton key solution toward creating a more diverse workforce by providing sustainable jobs and career growth opportunities to individuals underrepresented in the sector.”

“The Alexion Charitable Foundation is pleased to support organizations like MassBioEd who are dedicated to equity and inclusion,” said Alex Schuman, President of the Alexion Charitable Foundation. “Through the Apprenticeship program, MassBioEd is creating opportunities for education, mentorship, and job training that together build a pathway for careers in the Life Science sector for historically under-represented populations.”

“Arranta Bio seeks opportunities to make a real difference in addressing diversity in the work-place and providing opportunities for those who have historically not been able to access the life sciences industry,” said ArrantaBio CEO Mark Bamforth. “We saw the opportunity to create access to a fulfilling and sustainable career in life sciences manufacturing by partnering with MassBioEd and their Biomanufacturing Apprenticeship program to provide training and practical work experience that will lead to manufacturing careers for a new workforce. In turn, these individuals will provide Arranta Bio with new perspectives and experiences which will enrich our company. We look forward to welcoming our first cohort of apprentices soon.”

To learn more about the Apprenticeship Program, please visit https://www.massbioed.org/programs/biotalent/apprenticeship-program or contact BioTalent@massbioed.org.

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About the MassBioEd Foundation

The MassBioEd Foundation (MassBioEd) is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization. Its mission is to build a sustainable life sciences workforce in the region through educational programs that engage and excite teachers, inspire and propel students, and illuminate the pathway from the classroom to career with a focus on expansion, opportunity and diversity. Learn more: www.massbioed.org

Media Contact: megan.schulz@massbioed.org