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Window on the Workplace 2012

Recognizing the strategic job creation potential of North Carolina’s biomanufacturing and pharmaceutical manufacturing cluster, The Window on the Workplace 2012 (pdf) study was undertaken to document the continued growth and hiring needs in the cluster as well as benchmark progress made in meeting those needs by NCBioImpact. This partnership was the first program of its kind to provide comprehensive, hands-on, industry-specialized education and training for college and university students, job seekers, and incumbent employees.

The study focuses on a group of 54 production and manufacturing companies that share similarities in jobs, process technology, and international-regulatory oversight. The companies fall into three subsectors:

  • Biomanufacturers (companies that obtain their products from living cells)
  • Manufacturers of traditional pharmaceuticals and diagnostics
  • Pharmaceutical analytical/manufacturing service providers

This assessment is based largely on survey data collected in 2007 and 2011 as well as face-to-face interviews with company representatives. Our goals were to understand how the study group has changed since last reported in 2002 with respect to the number of jobs, the educational profile of the workforce, and the success with which companies can recruit, hire, train, and retain talent within North Carolina. Among the report’s findings:

Growth of the Study Group (2002-2011)

The sector is growing

As of the third quarter in 2011, 18,695 employees worked in the companies of the study group. Despite a significant decline in general manufacturing across North Carolina in the past decade and a forecasted 11 percent decrease in the coming decade, the state’s biomanufacturing and traditional pharmaceutical sector as a whole has shown modest annual average growth of 2.2% since 2002. In particular, the state’s biomanufacturing companies showed 5.3 percent annual growth since 2002 and are projecting 6.2 percent annual growth between 2011 and 2014.

Increasing levels of education and technical training are valued by industry

Since 2002, there has been a significant decrease in the percentage of workers with no education beyond high school, with a three-fold increase in the percentage of employees who have completed specialized training after high school. Employees with two- and four-year degrees constitute the largest portion of the biomanufacturing workforce.

Companies are finding talent locally

Biomanufacturing companies indicated they are now able to fill approximately 90 percent of their open positions from within North Carolina. As noted by Ester Alegria, Biogen Idec’s former vice president of manufacturing and general manager, “If you want your site to maintain a strong competitive advantage within your global corporation, you need to ensure your region has an accessible and sustainable skilled workforce with the right expertise, knowledge, and education. When Biogen Idec looks to recruit and hire people for our manufacturing facility in Research Triangle Park, I can count on having positions filled quickly, as there are no problems finding good workers.”

There is power in collaboration

Strong relationships with industry and a high percentage of faculty and staff with prior experience in the bioscience industry have enabled NCBioImpact institutions to proactively monitor and respond to training needs for both new and incumbent workers. In turn, biomanufacturing companies located in and around the Research Triangle region have saved money and reduced in-house training time through NcBioImpact institution courses and services.