The following discussion notes were collected during the session at the Maryland BioInnovation Conference, October 7, 2019.
Session Description: The demand for life sciences job skills is growing rapidly in this region. Our roundtables will discuss opportunities and challenges while determining actions which can be taken to ensure workforce readiness and availability for the short and long-term.
The discussion was organized into two groups: one concerned with educational opportunities to address a long term solution (3+ years) and a second to discuss immediate concerns (0-3 years).
Education Pathways Breakout Group
What are the identified challenges facing students interested in a STEM career?
- Increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the STEM career pipeline, specifically for underserved and underrepresented groups (i.e. minorities, women)
- Career awareness and access – most students in underserved communities lack knowledge of career opportunities, awareness of skilled trades, and a network that can assist in connecting students to meaningful career experiences.
- Prepare the STEM workforce for the future. Underresourced schools do not have access to the same enrichment opportunities that other schools may have.
- Engaging partnerships
- Support for first generation STEM students
- Understanding that underrepresented groups are not just one group – rather many groups with specific needs
What are the jobs of the future (next 5-10 years) in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region?
- Artificial intelligence
- Business development – people buying from humans
- Healthcare and caretaking
- Entry/mid-level lab technicians and skilled trades
- Technology that matches skills with jobs and job seekers
- Implementation research – bridging the gap between science and humans
- Biomanufacturing – specifically cell and gene therapy
- Data Analytics
- Programming and coding – specifically for medical devices
What programs do you have (or are you aware of) to engage K-12 and college students as they make career decisions?
- Youth apprenticeships
- CURE scholars (serving W. Baltimore)
- Untangled Minds (serving Eastern Shore)
- Experiences in BioTech summer program at Georgetown University
- NIH Amgen Scholars Program
- Learning Undefeated mobile labs and STEM camps
- STEM professionals in the classroom (example program at Towson University)
- NIIMBL – regional programs
- UMBC B.S in Translational Science
- In-laboratory student research opportunities
- Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) Program/dual enrollment programs
What are the barriers to helping students be successful in STEM careers?
- Not meeting the kids where they are
- Soft skills: HR, creativity, collaboration, listening, humor, communications, empathy
- Business acumen (understanding business implications and needing to make a profit)
- Mentorships + internships
- Apprenticeships – on the job training for middle skill STEM careers, trades, and jobs that do not require a 4-year degree
- Educate the educators – teachers are highly trusted advisors and don’t know enough about STEM career opportunities in this region
- Inform and engage the parents, so that they can coach and guide their kids
- Positive PR – sharing stories about the biotech industry beyond just research
How can we best engage the next generation STEM workforce?
- Start in middle school…. or earlier
- Introduce STEM mentors in the classroom
- Build excitement through unique opportunities – creating a sense of “I belong” for the students
- Company partnerships
- Post-doctoral opportunities
- Improve the K12 education system for long-term sustainability
- Introduce STEM mentors in the classroom
- Level the playing field for all students
Short-Term Solutions Breakout Group
A second discussion group was organized to discuss immediate concerns (0-3 years). Recommendations fell into four main areas.
- Some type of communication portal via MTC for networking, sharing resumes and highlighting roles in the areas.
- Branding ourselves as one region vs a variety of different hubs – how can we leverage our industry, government and academic relationships to have a bigger/bolder branding campaign for the Maryland area.
- Internships/training and hosting a collaborative Career Fair for our region.
- Create a task force via MTC to move this work forward.
- More jobs than people
- New grads not having a network
- Companies competing with each other
- Lack of a Bio “ecosystem”
- Younger generation not in science
- Not branded as a well-known hub & unclear what the hub is locally
- Unclear career paths for recent grads
- Not enough biotech opportunities in academia
- Government not up to speed in industry
- Skill gap between what’s needed and what’s taught
- Not enough training available
- No framework for opportunities
- Not enough internships or early stage companies
- Not enough internships outside of summer
- Highly educated workforce
- A lot of assets/high caliber institutions
- A lot of new biotechs
- Great education system
- Diverse population
- Incubators and laboratory space
- Work life balance
- Maryland/Commerce resourced
- Young, talent-driven culture
- Space of manufacturing
- Cost of living better than some other hubs
- International access
- Diversity – focus
- Look at PA, NJ hubs
- Host regional career fair
- Networking events that are visible to all
- More specific about what type of skills/experience make up our “top talent”
- Specific/consistent brand
- Support from satellite industries
- Communication portal/one resume platform
- Shadowing (‘A Day in the Life’ experiences)
- Funding for internships (government, corporate, academia)
- More apprenticeships
- Immediate task force to help companies hire
- More post-doc opportunities
- Remove education requirement and focus on training
you to our session moderators and all of the participants that contributed to
this work product.
Sarah Sheppard, Director of Education and Workforce, Office of Strategic Industries and Entrepreneurship, Maryland Department of Commerce
Shiva Fritsch, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, REGENXBIO
Brian Gaines, Chief Executive Officer, Learning Undefeated
Joseph Sanchez, Ph.D., Associate Director of Learning and Talent Development, AstraZeneca Biologics