One by one, leaders from the state’s bioscience and biotechnology industries addressed a crowd of 40 in a conference room at Alexion Pharmaceuticals’ Cheshire facility.

The goal of the day was simple–to walk away with a greater understanding of how educators can prepare students for a career in those fields.

Bioscience 2
"We have to connect the dots," said state senator Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury).

“We want to tie programs to industry needs,” said Daisy Cocco De Filippis, president of Naugatuck Valley Community College.

“Tell us what you want from us and how you can help us, because success for our students is success for the community.”

Each speaker told a similar story–bioscience is a fast-growing industry in the state, and there’s a need for skilled workers ranging from those with an associate’s degree to Ph.D. graduates.

“We need to recalibrate hiring managers to see that those with associate’s degrees just took a different educational path,” said Todd Arnold, managing director, Mount Sinai Genetic Testing Laboratory in Branford.

“There’s something for everyone in the bioscience industry,” added Caroline Hill, biopharma project manager at Bristol Myers Squibb.

That something includes employment as laboratory assistants, vet technicians, and clinical trial associates–jobs that don’t require a four-year degree but provide upward mobility and an entry point for those looking to start a career in the field.

Arnold also spoke to Connecticut’s world-class workforce.

“Ninety-five percent of those who work for us in Branford are Connecticut hires," he said. "That’s a testimony to the talent here in the state.”

To strengthen that pipeline for years to come, Arnold stressed that industry leaders need to communicate with schools and “tell educators what they need.”

Senator Joan Hartley echoed the sentiments of both the educators and business leaders.

“We have to get out of our silos and connect the dots,” she said, adding that the day’s conversation was really all about jobs.

Hartley also spoke about Connecticut’s strengths and assets.

“We’ve been known for our workforce, and companies choose to stay here because of that workforce," she said.

Every dollar invested in biopharma generates an additional $5.30 elsewhere in the economy.
Paul Pescatello, executive director of the Connecticut Bioscience Growth Council, discussed the economic importance of the bioscience industry, calling it a value-added industry.

“It’s an economic driver," he noted. "Every dollar invested in biopharma generates an additional $5.30 elsewhere in the economy. It’s a ripple effect.”

The March 2 bioscience summit was presented by Naugatuck Valley Community College and was the fourth in their series of seven industry summits.

The series brings together business and academia in the areas of allied health, manufacturing, information technology, bioscience, energy, financial services, and hospitality.