Talent Shortage Looms as Indiana’s Life Sciences Industry Booms

Xconomy Indiana — 

According to a new report from TEConomy Partners and Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, Indiana’s health and life sciences industry—which includes the sectors of biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, agbiosciences, hospitals, outpatient centers, medical and diagnostic labs, home healthcare services, and nursing and residential care facilities—has experienced more than 22 percent growth since 2001.

That’s a sharper increase than in the rest of the U.S., and health and life sciences now accounts for one of every ten private-sector jobs in Indiana, for a total of 265,000 jobs. The industry also has some of the state’s better-paying jobs: the average annual wage is $70,000, and almost $97,000 for jobs in the life sciences sector alone. The report found job growth in these occupations across all skill levels, from lower-skilled production workers to highly skilled scientists, engineers, and doctors.

However, the report warned that a talent shortage looms. While demand for health and life sciences jobs is strong and continues to grow in the state, there are shortages expected for several reasons: portions of the workforce are aging out and retiring, more IT workers with data science skills are needed, and there is intense national competition for highly skilled health and life sciences workers.

The report lays out a couple of recommendations for how Indiana might bolster its talent pipeline to fill the flood of vacancies: improve STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education for K-12 students; funnel more college students to post-secondary degrees in health and life sciences; upgrade the skills of current workers in the industry; and improve Indiana’s ability to attract and retain top talent.

“While we aren’t currently keeping the number of STEM graduates in-state that we should be, there is a tremendous opportunity to make stronger links between graduating students and employers with openings right here in their backyard,” David Johnson, president and CEO of BioCrossroads, said in a press release. “In addition, our place-making efforts at the 16 Tech innovation district will provide a unique hub to attract, retain, and grow our recent grads and other creative talent.”