Employment exceeds 89,000, demonstrates a high industry concentration 3.6x the national average with forecasted growth of 109,424 total jobs by 2024

June 1, 2021, CAMBRIDGE, MA — The Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd) today released its 5th annual Life Sciences Employment Outlook, in collaboration with TEConomy Partners, which provides an overview of employment supply and demand in the Massachusetts life sciences industry. The report also brings together insights and implications from the data to inform the efforts of MassBioEd and other state education and workforce training leaders going forward.

Overall, the life sciences industry in Massachusetts has demonstrated impressive resilience, continuing to grow in 2020 despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the pandemic-induced recession. Additionally, the importance of life sciences as an overall economic and growth driver in Massachusetts is difficult to overstate.

While Massachusetts’ colleges and universities deserve praise for increasing the levels of graduates in key life science-related fields, these gains are not keeping pace with the steadily rising demand for the breadth of high-skilled industry jobs, particularly among research scientists for which advanced degrees matter.

Key findings on the demand for life sciences talent in Massachusetts include:

  • In 2020, state life sciences companies employed more than 89,000, an employment base which has grown by 67% over the last decade.
  • Extrapolating from historical employment growth leads to an increase of approximately 5,000 new jobs each year through 2024, adding 20,000 employees for a total expected employment of over 109,000 by the end of 2024.
  • While acute hiring needs related to Covid vaccine and diagnostic development and manufacturing are certainly included in this increase, the underlying growth trend in employment has remained consistent over many years.
  • Industry employment is 3.6 times more concentrated in Massachusetts relative to the national average (a location quotient of 3.60), reflecting a highly “specialized” industry concentration.
  • Massachusetts’ demand for life sciences talent is especially STEM-intensive and focused in attracting “high-skilled” top talent, specifically those with bachelor’s or higher degrees.
  • In recent years, the industry has demonstrated particularly strong demand for managerial, scientific, data sciences, IT, and engineering expertise.
  • Massachusetts life sciences companies report the most difficulty in hiring for regulatory affairs/compliance, research scientists, data scientists (e.g., computational biology/statistics), and engineering professionals with product and/or process development expertise.

Key findings on the supply of life sciences talent in Massachusetts include:

  • Massachusetts college and university graduates are more concentrated in life science degree fields than their counterparts nationally (associate’s level and above).
  • Double-digit growth rates for Massachusetts’ college and university graduates over the last four years in nearly all leading life sciences fields is especially encouraging.
  • In K-12 indicators of STEM education achievement, Massachusetts’ students stand out among the nation’s highest performers in math and science assessments; however, only about half of 4th and 8th grade students in the state demonstrate proficiency in these subjects, far from a passing grade.
  • Looking forward and based on the current high rate of industry job creation, there is a sizable misalignment of life scientists in Massachusetts and if this persists through 2024, could result in a talent supply gap of more than 3,000 research scientists.
  • In addition, the life sciences industry is fiercely competing for talent with other sectors across large swaths of its highly concentrated STEM workforce in “secondary” fields outside of the life sciences such as engineering, IT, and data sciences.  The result is across-the-board talent sourcing and hiring challenges for state life sciences employers.

“The Massachusetts life sciences industry develops innovations that save and improve lives every day, all the while helping our economy. As a major global hub for the life sciences, Massachusetts continues to see growth in demand for employment, and it remains critical that we work with our partners in education and workforce development to ensure talent needs are met. MassBioEd remains steadfast in targeting our programs to support the development and supply of life sciences talent, supporting equal access to industry careers.”

Sunny Schwartz, Executive Director, MassBioEd

Key findings will be presented in detail at the 6th Annual Life Sciences Workforce Conference on June 2nd, 2021, an event uniquely devoted to bringing together the life sciences industry and academia to discuss training of the next generation of leaders. The 2021 Life Sciences Workforce Conference will feature group discussions facilitated by expert speakers on specific target areas, following a presentation of the 2021 Life Sciences Employment Outlook, a CEO discussion on the flexibility of the workplace of the future, and a fireside chat on the deep expansion of the life sciences sector across Massachusetts. Event sponsors include Sanofi Genzyme, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Biogen, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, MassBio, Third Rock Ventures, Corealis Pharma, J. Calnan and Associates, Northeastern University, Propel Careers, RMG Associates, and Stratacuity. Find out more information about the event here.

Download the full report at MassBioEd.org/Labor-Market-Information.

Contact Megan Schulz, Director of Communications and Events, MassBioEd for more details: Megan.Schulz@massbioed.org.