BioHub Maryland, Platoon 22 Partner to Train Veterans for the Life Sciences

A joint partnership between BioHub Maryland, a Maryland Tech Council initiative, and the not-for-profit Platoon 22 is offering veterans a new career pathway in the life sciences.

The two organizations will collaborate and offer military veterans access to training in the skills life sciences employers in Maryland and the BioHealth Capital Region value.

Maryland is home to a rapidly expanding life sciences ecosystem. There are more than 2,700 different life sciences companies that employ more than 54,000 people. In all, the industry contributes nearly $20 billion to the state’s economy.

The number of employment opportunities are expected to increase within the next several years. An analysis from the Workforce Development Task Force commissioned by Maryland’s Life Sciences Advisory Board estimates thousands of new positions will be available due to the expansion of the life sciences industry within the state.

The Task Force examined the state’s available talent pool for these expected jobs and what measures are necessary to grow homegrown talent. Workforce development programs like the partnership between BioHub Maryland and Platoon 22 will significantly contribute to filling those roles. Some of the expected life sciences positions will require advanced degrees but a significant number of jobs will not require scientific backgrounds. The skills needed in the life sciences industry are also in demand in other fields, such as automotive manufacturing and information technology.

(SOURCE: BioHub Maryland)

BioHub Maryland and Platoon 22 will partner to provide training for veterans to enter this rapidly expanding workforce. Training services will include BioHub Maryland’s online skills academy that teaches the fundamentals of the industry. Those fundamentals include biomanufacturing concepts, cell and gene therapy and vaccine manufacturing fundamentals, quality control skills, technical writing, and data analysis.

It is estimated that nearly 400,000 veterans live Maryland. Of those, about 70% live within an hour of the Veterans Service Commission in Frederick County, which will provide them with easier access to the training, explained Niki Falzone, Director of Operations and Veterans Services for Platoon 22.

“There are a large number of veterans who will benefit from this,” she said.

Those offerings will expand in 2024. BioHub Maryland will provide state-of-the-art lab space where trainees can gain competency-based, “learn by doing” biomanufacturing training. 

Falzone said her organization sees hundreds of veterans each week and the vast majority are expressing some sort of interest in a new career that has a mission-driven focus such as the armed services. She shared that one Navy veteran her organization is helping transition from military life to a civilian career expressed excitement at the opportunity provided by the life sciences. The Navy veteran told her a career in the life sciences would offer the same kind of mission-driven values he had in the service.

“He said this was something he would be proud to do,” Falzone said. “And I know there are tens of thousands of veterans who could benefit from this as well.”

BioHub Maryland is an online portal designed to meet the workforce development needs of Maryland’s rapidly growing life science industry. The website, which launched last year with support from Montgomery County, the state of Maryland and the U.S. government, provides individuals with a roadmap for landing a job in the rapidly expanding life sciences ecosystem.

Not only are life sciences jobs mission driven, they also offer a good living. The median salary in Maryland is approximately $69,000. However, the average salary for life sciences employees in the Old Line State is $129,000.

Kelly Schulz, the new Chief Executive Officer of the Maryland Tech Council and former Maryland Commerce Secretary, said the partnership between BioHub Maryland and Platoon 22 will provide a pipeline of needed employees for the state’s life sciences industry.

“With economic development you have to have workforce development. We’re trying to create the ecosystem in Maryland to satisfy those needs. Hundreds, if not thousands of jobs are coming into the state of Maryland over the next year and we need to accommodate those businesses,” Schulz said.

The three to six month training programs through BioHub Maryland will be supported by industry partners. Once participants complete training, Schulz predicted those supporting industry partners will be “lined up” with available jobs.

Schulz noted that many workforce development programs through the state’s community colleges are in high demand. She said the schools are having trouble accommodating everyone who seeks to enroll.

“Our goal is to create a larger, more robust ecosystem. It takes partnerships like Platoon 22 to help come in and help solve workforce problems in the industry,” Schulz said.