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Study: Mass. lags in scientific talent

Massachusetts needs to do a better job of motivating grade school students to go into science and technology fields if it plans to keep its life sciences companies, a new report on the industry has found.

The study, “Growing Talent: Meeting the Evolving Needs of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Industry,” finds that Massachusetts lacks the supply of educated workers it needs to meet life sciences companies’ employment demands.

For example, while 85 percent of the state’s life sciences companies expect to expand in the next two years, 90 percent of the companies surveyed say they have had difficulty finding qualified clinical research staff.

“The commonwealth needs to build upon its strengths if it is to remain the world leader” in the cutting-edge field, said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, president of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which co-sponsored the study with the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council.

The UMass Donahue Institute issued the report after a year of interviewing executives, academics and others.

The institute recommends that the state improve technical training programs to better address employer needs.

The report lands just a few months after the Legislature approved Gov. Deval Patrick’s $1 billion life sciences initiative, which provides grants to scientific researchers and tax breaks to life sciences companies.

The goal of the initiative is to attract and retain life sciences companies, and their high-paying jobs and well-educated workers.

The initiative includes a $25 million investment fund to support workforce training and other life sciences education programs.


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