To boost the bio/medical industry, invest in the workforce

The future of New York’s bio/medical industry, a key driver of the state’s economy, is threatened by a labor shortage crisis that demands immediate action.

Every day, from Amherst to Rensselaer, bio/medical industry employees go to work to produce drugs and medical devices that improve and save lives. Our industry employs thousands of workers across the state in areas such as research, manufacturing, engineering, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, and software. These good, well-paying jobs enhance our communities and create opportunity for all New Yorkers.

In fact, the bio/medical industry has transformed the upstate economy. In Buffalo, public-private collaborations have made Western New York an internationally recognized hub for high-tech health-related startups. Similar investments are paying dividends in Rochester, Syracuse and Albany, as well as the North Country and Southern Tier, regions that have struggled in recent decades. Backed by our world-class universities, unrivaled physical assets, and a rich tradition of innovation, the bio/medical industry is powering the future of the state’s economy.

However, our ability to grow, attract investment and position New York as the choice for the next generation of workers is in jeopardy. Our industry cannot recruit and retain enough skilled workers to meet the demand. In some cases, potential workers lack the necessary skills, while in other cases, logistical hurdles create barriers. Although the reasons are manifold, if we don’t resolve this crisis now, we are risking the future of New York’s economy.

We commend Governor Kathy Hochul for recognizing the importance of this challenge. His state budget calls for unprecedented investments in workforce development and worker training. His comprehensive plan to reinvent and overhaul the state’s approach to workforce development ensures that New York and its workers will remain competitive on the world stage. We urge the Legislative Assembly to adopt them.

Problem solving is in the DNA of our industry, and we’re ready to partner with problem-solving government, schools, colleges and the workforce to meet this challenge. Nothing less than the future is at stake.

Winthrop Thurlow is executive director of MedTech, a nonprofit association of pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical technology companies, their suppliers, service providers and research universities.

Michael A. Bynum