Members and Friends,
Virginia Bio and the Virginia Bio Foundation have launched a long term strategic workforce initiative.
I can’t describe the need for this any better than the Virginia Chamber did in its Blueprint 2025:
“The availability of a well- trained and educated workforce remains the top concern for Virginia’s business community, and with good reason. Companies need people with the right skills to help them grow, thrive, and prosper.… Virginia can build its supply of talent through a deliberate focus on creating closer connections to the business community and jobs throughout its education system. These connection points include work-based learning experiences, the development of career exploration tools, and business involvement in the design of education and training programs.”
In some fields, like IT, cyber and advanced manufacturing, the state has and continues to invest time and money to understand the workforce supply and demand and implement aggressive programs to create alignment and address gaps. But no such effort has been made for the life sciences. Little data. No coordination.
But talent is seeking opportunity …. and opportunity is seeking talent every day.
So, let’s get to work.
Our goal is to help bridge the communications and relationships gap between industry and academia, to help align needs and strengths and to identify gaps. This will strengthen the pipeline of talent for the growing and ever-changing life science industry in the Commonwealth and equip the next generation of Virginians with the vision, knowledge and skills they need to launch meaningful and productive careers so that they can play their part in the great challenge before us to heal, feed, fuel and care for the world.
The Virginia Life Science Workforce Initiative is launching with four (4) components:
• “Live Connect” will be a comprehensive series of live video interviews with industry professional designed for bioSTEM students in Higher Ed across Virginia to “meet and interact” virtually in real time with people from a variety of life science employers in a variety of roles. We are using technology to take a standard visit to campus and make it scalable, extending the reach to any employer and any student anywhere in the state. The goal is to inform students about career paths, to learn about employment opportunities and employers, and training skills and to make connections. We are doing a pilot this spring with William & Mary, Christopher Newport and James Madison Universities, and shooting for a full statewide launch Sept 2018).
• Internships. We facilitate students matching with employers with internship programs with real-world applications and work experience. We help students will gain experiential learning while industry employers gain working knowledge of potential employees.
• Virginia Life Science Workforce Trends Reports. We have sent out an on-line survey and over the next month we will be conducting phone interviews with life science employers statewide to gain insights into current needs for talent and key trends. We’re delighted that a Master’s in Public Administration Capstone Team at VCU’s Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs is helping us with this time-intensive task and collecting the incomplete data that does exist on the life science workforce and assessing the gaps. We’re conducting the trends reporting in conjunction with similar efforts by sister BIO organizations nationwide, an analysis of job postings data in the state, and a review of labor statistics and SCHEV data to compile both national and Virginia information.
• Life Science Workforce Summit. On Thursday, June 21 in Richmond we will convene life science employers from across the state, academic and career administrators from all of Virginia’s higher education institutions that train and educate bioSTEM students, economic development professionals, HR and staffing experts and policymakers. The goal is to inform, inspire, share best practices, create relationships and spark innovative partnerships, to improve how we develop and find talent to meet the dynamic needs of employers and provide our young people extraordinary careers making the most of their life sciences education. To our knowledge, this will be the first time this has been done. Click here to sign up to learn more!
Our efforts have been led by the Chairman of the Board of our Foundation, Jim Powers, and by an esteemed volunteer board of advisors representing different sectors, communities and regions.
Cliff Fleet, President, BioMech,
Ia Gomez, Ph.D., Associate Dean, Science and Applied Technologies Division
Manassas Campus Manassas Campus, Northern Virginia Community College
Megan Healy, Ph.D., Chief Workforce Development Advisor, Office of Governor Ralph Northam
Mark Herzog, Vice President Corporate Affairs, kaleo, Inc.
Hal Irvin, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Health Sciences & Technology Outreach, Virginia Tech Carilion
Kathleen Powell, Associate Vice President for Career Development, William & Mary
Denise Toney, PH.D., Director, Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, Commonwealth of Virginia
If you are enthusiastic about lending a hand, please let us know.
Jeff Gallagher, CEO