News & Updates

Mayor Menino Announces $5 Million Federal Grant To Build Metro Boston’s Life Sciences Workforce

Mar 08, 2012

Today Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced receiving a 4-year $5 million life sciences grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that will grow and maintain the area’s life sciences workforce.  The Metro Boston Skilled Careers in Life Sciences (SCILS) initiative will provide industry specific job training for 360 metro Boston residents, support an additional 300 post-secondary students in internships, and provide career counseling and outreach services to over 3,000 individuals in Boston’s most competitive industries. “For these residents the SCILS initiative represents a golden opportunity - the chance to not just get a job, but to start on a career and access a lifetime of opportunity,” said Mayor Menino.  “For employers it widens the local talent pool for these critical skilled positions.” SCILS is being implemented in collaboration with the City of Boston’s Jobs and Community Services, and the MetroNorth, Metro Southwest, and South Coastal workforce regions.  Training partners will include Boston University, Quincy College, and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.  The program will serve more than 80 cities and towns in Metro Boston. "As one of the city’s major providers of life science research and education programs and one of Boston’s largest employers, Boston University is delighted to be a partner in this latest endeavor," said Karen Antman, MD, provost, BU Medical Campus, and dean, BU School of Medicine. "This initiative underscores the Mayor's commitment to providing programs that lead to a highly trained workforce in the healthcare and biotechnology fields." “Our state’s talented workforce is the number one reason why life sciences companies choose to locate and grow in Massachusetts,” said Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.  “That is why I am so pleased to join with Mayor Menino in partnering in this initiative.  We will put to good use the portion of these funds that will go toward supporting and expanding the Life Sciences Center’s Internship Challenge Program.” SCILS will draw on the strength and expertise of the Boston Healthcare Careers Consortium, a unique collaboration of healthcare organizations, educational institutions, labor organizations, and the public workforce system.  High caliber affiliates include Partners Health Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, SEIU 1199 Training Fund, and dozens of others.  SCILS will add to this effort with new employer partners like Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Biogen Idec.  Over the next 4 years the SCILS Initiative will provide customized occupational training, contextualized learning, program development and the recruitment, case management and placement of eligible participants.  SCILS programs will focus on training for careers as Biological Technicians, Medical Lab Technicians and Medical Lab Technologists. The funding for the grant comes from the fees paid for H1B visas, which allow companies to import temporary labor from foreign countries.  In fiscal year 2010 about 4,450 HB1 visas were issued in the Metro Boston area costing companies approximately $11 million dollars.  The SCILS initiative will aid in remedying this local skill shortage by training area residents for well paying positions in one of the region’s most critical industries.  The advocacy work of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation was an important partner in securing these federal grant funds. Life Sciences in Boston In 2004 Mayor Menino created the LifeTech program an aggressive, proactive strategy to grow the life sciences community in Boston with a main mission of attracting and retaining life sciences companies. The program provides businesses engaged in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other related industries assistance with the City’s permitting process, financing, and site location.  Since the program launched less than 10 years ago the number of life sciences companies has doubled to 80 and continues to grow.  From June 18-21 Boston will host the 2012 Bio International Convention and have an opportunity to showcase its strong life sciences industry to peers from around the world.

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