OSTP Announces New Action Plan to Bolster, Expand, and Diversify the Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Workforce
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On June 27, 2023, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced the release of a new action plan intended to “rapidly and equitably expand biotechnology and biomanufacturing education and job training programs in the United States.” According to OSTP, biomanufacturing “is a critical aspect of advanced manufacturing that can drive new, sustainable alternatives across industries” and “can unlock new solutions in health, climate change, clean energy, food security, agriculture, supply chain resilience, and national and economic security.” OSTP states that the action plan will help propel continued investment in the bioeconomy and maintain America’s leadership in this sector by preparing more Americans for these jobs and build a diverse pipeline that includes women, people of color, people living in rural communities, and others underrepresented in emerging fields.
The action plan includes the following core recommendations, along with select new and ongoing actions that the Biden Administration is taking and will take -- in collaboration with employers, unions; state, local, and Tribal governments; high schools; institutions of higher education; industry associations; and other stakeholders:
- Expand and diversify the talent pool for biotechnology and biomanufacturing jobs and careers to promote innovation and advance equity;
- Strengthen worker-centered sector strategies and other partnerships between employers, labor organizations, community colleges, and other training providers to grow and diversify the bioworkforce;
- Develop and rigorously evaluate innovative approaches to education and training for biotechnology and biomanufacturing jobs and careers, scaling and promoting those found to be most effective;
- Partner with state, local, and Tribal governments, education and training providers, bioscience associations, unions and other worker-serving organizations, and other stakeholders to raise awareness about the promise and potential of careers in the bioworkforce; and
- Improve data and analytic capacity and cross-sector collaboration to advance equity and support effective workforce development -- including the development of industry-recognized credentials and competency models.
According to OSTP, the Biden Administration is already beginning to implement the action plan by taking the following actions:
- The National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will take action to expand partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU), and Minority Serving Institutions (MSI);
- The U.S. Department of Education will create cross-sector collaborations through the Unlocking Career Success Initiative and launch a professional learning series focused on bioworkforce needs and the role of K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions;
- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is prioritizing advanced manufacturing, including biomanufacturing, in key grant programs, such as the State Apprenticeship Expansion Formula grant;
- The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) will support a National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals pilot program designed to attract high school students into biopharmaceutical manufacturing career pathways; and
- NSF, in partnership with DOL, DOC, and other agencies, will convene a forum to build alignment on recognized competency models, development of new competency models where needed, and exploration of credentialing mechanisms for the bioworkforce.