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Biotech Industry Job Classification Report

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Biotech Industry Job Classification Report

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:44 pm

Here's an article from the San Jose Mercury News, about a new survey released by the EDD (Economic Development group in the CA state gov't). It was a very interesting report, but lacked validity because so few companies responded. Therefore, careful how you use the data.

Biotech labor data suggest education changes
By Steve Johnson, Mercury News

State labor officials on Thursday released a first-ever study of the types of jobs at California's biotechnology companies, saying the data may make it easier to design educational programs to bolster the industry.

The study by California's Employment Development Department identified 188 biotech occupations, from bio-informatics program analysts and drug safety specialists to bio-statisticians and animal care managers.

"This is our first attempt at trying to get some understanding of what the industry is all about,'' said Velessata Kelley, a spokeswoman with the agency.

The study found that one-fourth of the state's 85,000 biotech jobs in the survey were held by people with only high-school degrees, which was of interest to Joe Panetta, president of BIOCOM, a biotech industry organization based in Southern California. As biotech companies shift from pure research to manufacturing and selling drugs, he said, the companies no longer are looking only for people with highly technical graduate degrees.

"There's sometimes a misconception that biotechnology jobs are all Ph.D-molecular biologists,'' Panetta said.

The study was based on questionnaires sent to 674 biotech firms, including 266 in the Bay Area, which has the state's greatest concentration of biotech companies. Only 74 companies responded, which hindered the state's ability to draw conclusions from the data.

"We would have needed a lot more than 74 firms responding to say with any statistical precision that the results are representative,'' said John Billington, a deputy chief in the agency's labor market division.

That relatively small sample size concerned state Assemblyman Gene Mullin, D-San Mateo, who chairs a select committee on biotechnology, which reviewed the report Thursday. Nonetheless, he said the data should help California educators design better classes to produce the kinds of biotech graduates that companies need.

Mullin added that he intends to hold another hearing to discuss "how we can better prepare students at all levels of education to move into this industry.''

Dave Jensen

PS - I've found a link to the original PDF survey here: Biotech Survey

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