Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Massachusetts vaccine makers cite talent pipeline, childcare as biggest barriers to recruitment

While vaccine makers including Pfizer and Moderna have ramped up production to save millions of lives, they are still struggling to hire and retain workers.

That was the focus on Tuesday, along with Sen. Eric Lesser and Rep. Jeffrey Roy, co-chairs of the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus, and MasBio executives.

Paul Granadillo, Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain at Moderna, said, “In 2021, we have certainly seen a significant downturn in the market and this will impact our hiring rate (necessary) to maintain the pace of continued capacity growth. started.” .

Although Cambridge- and Norwood-based Moderna expanded its human resources department with the intention of increasing its hiring in conjunction with its production line, the company has struggled to attract “specialized individuals”, he said. . Even though he called Massachusetts “a great place to live,” he said, “the more we can do to encourage individuals … the better to move to Massachusetts.”

Andrea Wagner, chief technical officer for Berkshires Sterile Manufacturing in Lee, encouraged other biotech companies to consider a move to western Massachusetts.

“There is a huge need for permanent jobs here,” she said. “Although we have trouble finding talents like yours, the cost of living is lower[and]the educational structure here is similar, if not better, than Boston.”

He added, however, that the lack of childcare for employees has been a major issue. The company tried to address the issue by offering a non-profit daycare space in its facility in exchange for subsidized daycare for employees, but the daycare has reduced staff and partially closed since the pandemic began.

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Wagner cited retention as a major issue for many biotech companies, which require employees to be trained for at least six months in an FDA-regulated industry. She suggested that the state help create a retention bonus after three years of employment, or that the state could help pay off student loans after three years.

Corey Siddons, senior director of manufacturing at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, spoke on the importance of apprenticeships and other programs to build a steady pipeline of talent, noting that the “real big pile of resumes” that he would have seen in the past could be related to roles in the organization. has decreased for .

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Alnylam partnered with the nonprofit MassBio to run its apprenticeship program, and Siddons said the company has seen a “brilliant” and broad spectrum of candidates in terms of age, background and previous work experience.

“We all need to design appropriate job descriptions with level and educational requirements that are appropriate for the role, not everything (bachelors of science) needs,” he said. “We need to adopt more transferable skills and non-traditional work experiences.”

Massachusetts vaccine makers cite talent pipeline, childcare as biggest barriers to recruitment
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