Tech Collective Releases Rhode Island Bioscience Workforce Skills Gap Study

  Tech Collective Releases Rhode Island Bioscience Workforce Skills Gap Study

Rhode Island’s bioscience industry employs 4,602; report identifies workforce
 skills gaps, education and career pathways, and recommendations for action.
 Industry panel to discuss workforce challenges at Bioscience Industry Skills
                           Gap Forum on March 26^th

Business Wire

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- March 21, 2014

Tech Collective, Rhode Island’s Bioscience and Information Technology industry
association, today released its Rhode Island Bioscience Skills Gap Study. The
report can be downloaded at www.tech-collective.org; copies will be
distributed at the Bioscience Industry Skills Gap Forum on Wednesday, March
26^th from 8:30-10:30am at Save the Bay in Providence. Panelists from Alexion
Pharmaceuticals, EpiVax, Inc., Tedor Pharma, and Amgen will discuss the report
and bioscience workforce challenges and approaches (see below for panelists
and more information).

The bioscience skills gap report profiles the burgeoning bioscience industry
in Rhode Island and comprehensively focuses on its workforce needs. Career and
professional development opportunities are explored along with K-12 education
pathways. Concluding the report are recommendations to foster workforce and
industry growth.

Included in the report is a timeline identifying bioscience industry
development, workforce training, and K-16 education achievements over the past
decade. In looking at the bioscience industry as a young innovation ecosystem,
the report also cites the need for industry, academic, and government support.
Other competitive factors influencing the industry are noted, including access
to capital, infrastructure, and research facilities.

The report follows Tech Collective’s 2009 At the Heart of Bioscience: Rhode
Island Skills Gap Report. The updated bioscience industry study was researched
and compiled using local and national industry data and garnering Rhode Island
employer insights via focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and an employer
survey. Findings of the report aim to raise awareness of and guide investments
in Rhode Island’s bioscience workforce. The Rhode Island Bioscience Skills Gap
Study was funded by an Industry Partnership grant through the Governor’s
Workforce Board Rhode Island (GWBRI).

“Rhode Island’s bioscience industry is one of high-potential – both to impact
the Rhode Island economy and workforce, as well as to improve our global
well-being,” said Kathie Shields, executive director of Tech Collective. “The
purpose of the bioscience skills gap report is to foster that potential
through identifying the workforce needs of this industry and offering
recommendations to meet those needs. Tech Collective looks forward to working
with the industry and academic and government stakeholders to support and
strengthen Rhode Island’s bioscience industry.”

Industry Overview

Rhode Island employs 4,602 bioscience professionals across the industry and
has a total employment impact of an additional 11,847 workers. The bioscience
industry participates on national and global levels and is comprised of five
sectors: drugs and pharmaceuticals; medical devices and equipment; research,
testing, and medical laboratories; agricultural feedstock and biofuels; and
bioscience-related distribution. Rhode Island’s greatest strengths lie in
drugs and pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and research and development.

Report Findings

Bioscience leaders we spoke with expressed optimism and growth, with 90
percent of respondents anticipating their company will expand in the next 3-5
years. Still, employers indicated their biggest workforce challenge is a lack
of skilled workers to hire.

In a highly specialized industry, workers proficient in both technical and
professional skill sets are valued by employers. Technical skills gaps
included: technical writing/documentation, regulatory compliance, quality
assurance, research, and Good Clinical/Laboratory/Manufacturing Practice (GCP,
GLP, and GMP, respectively). Professional skills gaps included: critical
thinking, communications, teamwork, leadership, cultural awareness, project
management, and the ability to work independently. Employers also look to
retain workers with interdisciplinary knowledge in business operations,
manufacturing, and other areas related to the biosciences.

Looking at bioscience education and career pathways, the report identifies
entry-level requirements, professional development training methods and
priorities, and K-12 and higher education programs. Experiential learning was
identified as one of the most important ways to bridge bioscience studies with
industry experience. Especially Rhode Island’s smaller bioscience companies
are receptive to internships, work experience, and mentoring the incoming
workforce.

Recommendations

Recommendations following the report aim to inspire and engage youth in the
STEM fields through the state’s Bioscience Academies, integration into K-12
curriculum, and integrated or after school STEM programs; support for and
increased participation in higher education and experiential learning
opportunities; expanded workforce training and professional development
funding; and increased industry awareness and advocacy, including support of
the Economic Intersections of Rhode Island action agenda led by Commerce RI
and the Rhode Island Foundation.

Skills Gap Forum: Bioscience Industry

Kicking off the bioscience focus of Tech Collective’s Skills Gap Series, the
Bioscience Industry panel discussion will be held on Wednesday, March 26^th,
2014 from 8:30-10:30am at Save the Bay in Providence.  Industry panelists will
discuss the findings of the report as well as current and future initiatives
the state can undertake to grow and innovate in the industry. Panelists:

  *Karen DaSilva, Associate Director, Human Resources, Alexion
    Pharmaceuticals
  *Cliff Grimm, Managing Director, EpiVax, Inc.
  *Matthew Iorio, Executive Vice President, Tedor Pharma
  *Katherine Chaloupka, Senior Scientist, Process Development, Amgen

The Skills Gap Series forums are open to the public. Industry, academic, and
state leaders and stakeholders are encouraged to attend. For more information
or attend, visit www.tech-collective.org.

About Tech Collective: Tech Collective is Rhode Island’s Information
Technology and Bioscience Industry Association. Uniting industry, government
and academic stakeholders, our mission is to inspire, engage, educate and
employ a high-skill, high-wage Knowledge Economy in Rhode Island. Since its
transition from the Rhode Island Technology Council (RITEC) in 2004, Tech
Collective has received more than $8M in federal, state and private grant
funding to foster industry collaboration, awareness and development through
events and initiatives including: the Tech10 awards, the Rhode Island
Bioscience Awards, GRRL Tech, Women in Technology, Bio-Ed, and STEM-based
education and training programs for K-16 students as well as incumbent and
transitioning workers. Get connected to Tech Collective at
www.tech-collective.org, on Facebook (TechCollectiveRI), and on Twitter
(@Tech_Collective).

Contact:

Tech Collective
Giselle Mahoney, 401-829-8321
Manager of Communications & Media Relations
gmahoney@tech-collective.org
 
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