Maryland Tech Council’s Next Mission: Upskill Military Veterans for Life Science Jobs

A new workforce development partnership between two Frederick-based organizations aims to leverage Maryland’s expansive life sciences industry serving its sizable ex-military population.

The Maryland Tech Council (MTC) today jointly announced its collaboration with Platoon 22, a nonprofit organization that uses workforce onboarding and bypass services to stem the tide of workplace suicides. Veterans. The program specifically aspires to connect these veterans to the state’s life sciences and biotechnology ecosystems through MTC’s BioHub Maryland initiative, whose staff members will work with Platoon 22 to develop veterans in the jobs and disciplines most in need among life science employers.

The training will be administered in part by BioHub Maryland’s online training academy, which, according to an announcement, will teach basic concepts of biomedical manufacturing, technical writing, quality assurance and other components within of the wider life sciences industry.

Kelly Schulz, former Maryland Secretary of Labor and Commerce who became CEO of MTC in October, told the initiative stemmed from work done by her predecessor Marty Rosendale and COO Michelle Ferrone. Schulz credited Ferrone with reaching out to 22 Platoon, which was preparing to launch its Platoon Veterans Service Center around the same time BioHub Maryland received an infusion of state and federal funds to expand. Both entities saw an opportunity to channel the mission-focused orientation already familiar to the state’s military veterans — a community of about 400,000, by 22 Platoon’s own figures — into an industry that MTC says, injects $20 billion into the state’s economy.

“[Veterans] make great interns and employees because of the training they’ve already received,” Schulz said. “We want to be able to make sure they have a path to grow into, whether it’s an entry-level role or [higher], but have these opportunities to continue to be successful because they are mission driven. The life science community is on a mission to save lives, so there are a lot of similarities. »

According to Schulz, the program, which grew out of a November memorandum of understanding between the two organizations, will begin by soliciting applicants. Program participants will begin by taking BioHub Maryland’s online training this summer. The training draws in part on MTC committee meetings, where executives from member companies explained the kinds of skills the industry needs from people entering the life sciences market.

Schulz added that while this is a statewide effort, partnership leaders aim to scale it in a way that could involve in-person components — especially starting next year, in what an announcement described as BioHub Maryland’s own “state of the art.” laboratory space” – as well as increased collaboration with its regional chapters in Baltimore, Prince George’s County and the Chesapeake Bay area.

Advocacy for new opportunities in life sciences

MTC announced the initiative the same week it will host its second annual Advocacy Summit in Annapolis, where Schulz and his colleagues will present a mix of programming and networking events (including a paid leadership dinner) to connect technology and life sciences industry leaders with elected officials. Panels and fireside chats announced for Thursday will explore topics such as how to build a stronger biotech ecosystem, ways to center patient experiences as the industry grows, and the impact of the digital inequality across the state.

Schulz said it was the MTC’s first advocacy-focused day in three years, thanks to the disruptions of the COVID era. Lieutenant Governor-elect Aruna Miller will deliver the keynote address at the Leadership Dinner.

Looking at the scope of this advocacy, as well as veteran-focused programs and other aspects of Maryland Tech Council’s work, Schulz isn’t yet too concerned about the possible impact of the recession on the industries that MTC represented. Besides a handful of layoffs at specific companies, she instead sees signs that the tech and life sciences industries are ramping up capacity through expanding lab space and other moves. She cited examples of lab spaces being developed in Montgomery and Frederick counties, with more companies attracting and investing in such facilities outside of federal grants. Additionally, she believes elected leaders have an important role to play in making Maryland an attractive place to do business.

“I’ve heard there’s about 3 million square feet of space that’s being developed for future products right now, across the state – not just in major hubs – and I think that’s a good sign,” she said. “Our members continue to hear that they are short of manpower, so this is always an opportunity to create more jobs with a better trained workforce. And if they need more workers, that means they are growing.

“I won’t dispute anyone who says there might be some sort of correction in the economy, but my numbers are not the ones that see a massive correction,” she added.


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