Boston will add 1,000 new biotech and life sciences workers by 2025 to fill workforce needs and maintain the region's hold in the industry, Mayor Michelle Wu promised at the kickoff of a week-long international conference in the city.
The city will open a $4 million grant application under the Boston Sciences Workforce Initiative intended to connect companies with city residents seeking "good-paying" life sciences jobs and career paths. The grants are funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act and the city's Neighborhood Jobs Trust.
At the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the mayor said she was focused on programs that include internships and hiring commitments at life sciences companies that will train people "for specific in-demand positions, and focus on empowering residents without four-year degrees, particularly workers of color women and immigrant residents, all of whom are underrepresented in the industry today and ready and eager from our communities to contribute."
These grants will also seek to alleviate challenges that workers often face getting into the industry, such as child care and transportation costs, Wu said.
The city is also planning an extensive outreach campaign, alongside American City Coalition, LabCentral Ignite and MassBioEd.
"We're doing this because we've been having a lot of conversations in community and listening, almost every conversation included some feedback about how to build more inclusive career pathways," Wu said. " 'You have to increase awareness,' residents told us, 'you have to bring these opportunities directly into our communities.' "
Massachusetts is a hub of the global life sciences industry, but workforce shortages continue to challenge the industry, and states such as California, North Carolina are competing with Massachusetts.
As of 11 a.m. on Monday, 18,000 people had registered for the biotech conference, Wu said, and the city is expecting even more.
"As Boston welcomes BIO here, as you can see from the thousands that are already here and that will flood these floors throughout the week, we want to make sure that Massachusetts signals to the world that we are open and focused. And in doing so in partnership with the city, in partnership with the administration, we are unlocking assets that are right here in our backyard," Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Lauren Jones said.