News Brief

Report Advocates for Employment of Community College Students in BioPharma Roles

Friday, January 19, 2018

MassBioEd in Cambridge, MA, released a new report showing a shifting trend in the hiring practices of the bio-pharmaceutical industry that favors candidates with four-year degrees over community college graduates, despite the investment the industry has made in associate degree programs.

Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) graduate and Pfizer employee Ana Maria Ovalle spoke with WGBH News’ Kirk Carapezza about the issue. "The lab portion of it really prepares you for entry-level jobs,” Ovalle said. "I have worked with people that have come from a four-year school that did not know cell culture or were not exposed to the type of skills that I learned at Bunker Hill.” After completing an internship at a biopharma company in Cambridge, Ovalle landed a job at Pfizer where she works in a bio-chemical lab full-time.

Companies like Pfizer traditionally hired associate degree recipients to fulfill entry-level lab technician roles. However, according to the MassBioEd study, between 2011-2016 job openings requiring bachelor’s degrees have increased 44% and positions requiring an associate degree have increased only 16%. The report recommends that hiring managers in this field revise their practices to better accommodate the hiring of qualified associate degree holders for the positions. “The number of articulation agreements between two- and four-year public colleges should be increased,” the report recommends, “and the state’s very successful MassTransfer process offers a remedy for the current disconnect between community college biotechnology degree programs and four-year biology and biotechnology programs.”