Global industry is on the cusp of a revolution powered by biotechnology and biomanufacturing. By harnessing the power of biotechnology and biomanufacturing, we can produce almost anything that we use in our day-to-day lives—from medicines to fuels to plastics. We can program microorganisms to make specialty chemicals and compounds that can replace fossil fuels with more climate-friendly alternatives. We can develop new treatments for debilitating diseases like cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and rare diseases. We can develop improved crops and animal varieties that produce food, fuel, and fiber with less resources. These are but a few examples of the innovation and potential of biomanufacturing powered by advanced biotechnology.
The United States is a leader in this growing “bioeconomy.” The President’s Investing in America agenda, including the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act, are helping to maintain the nation’s leadership. Since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, private companies have announced $470 billion in manufacturing and clean energy investments—including in biomanufacturing. But we need to continue to act to remain competitive as other countries are positioning themselves to become the world’s resource for biotechnology solutions and bio-based products.
That is why President Biden signed the Executive Order (E.O. 14081)4 that launched a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative in September 2022. This initiative aims to ensure that cutting-edge products resulting from biotechnology invented in the United States are manufactured in the United States. By doing so, we will create jobs at home, build stronger supply chains, and lower prices for American families. However, this initiative will only succeed if our nation has a skilled and diverse workforce to meet the needs of the growing bioeconomy today and into the future. Studies and stakeholder consultations demonstrate: 1) consistent growth in the bioeconomy; 2) increasing demand for talent for many bioeconomy occupations requiring a wide range of skills and post-secondary credentials—including many that do not require a four-year college degree; and 3) a need to remove barriers for students and workers—particularly those who have been underrepresented in the bioeconomy — to prepare for, secure, and advance in good jobs and careers in biotechnology and biomanufacturing. Research and consultations also emphasize that to build a skilled and diverse workforce for the bioeconomy, collaboration across government, business, unions, community-based organizations, community colleges, and other stakeholders is essential. No one entity can meet this need alone.
This report—developed by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Domestic Policy Council (DPC), Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Education (ED), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) in collaboration with other agencies—outlines a plan for expanding education and training opportunities for biotechnology and biomanufacturing in the United States. It refers to the broad set of occupations in biotechnology and biomanufacturing as the “bioworkforce.” The goals of the plan are to ensure that:
- U.S. education and training programs can meet the rapidly changing skill needs for good jobs and careers in the bioeconomy and increasing demand for workers;
- A diverse pipeline of workers, including women, people of color, people living in rural communities, individuals with disabilities, justice-involved individuals, individuals returning to the workforce, and others underrepresented in emerging fields, can prepare for, secure, and advance in good bioeconomy jobs and careers;
- Federal resources are directed at evidence-based education and training approaches that advance equity.
This plan presents the following core recommendations, along with select new and ongoing actions that the Administration is taking and will take—in collaboration with employers; unions; state, local and Tribal governments; high schools; institutions of higher education; industry associations; and other stakeholders.
- Expand and diversify the talent pool for biotechnology and biomanufacturing jobs and careers to promote innovation and advance equity.
- Strengthen worker-centered sector strategies and other partnerships between employers, labor organizations, community colleges, and other training providers to grow and diversify the bioworkforce.
- Develop and rigorously evaluate innovative approaches to education and training for biotechnology and biomanufacturing jobs and careers, scaling and promoting those found to be most effective.
- Partner with state, local, and Tribal governments, education and training providers, bioscience associations, unions and other worker-serving organizations, and other stakeholders to raise awareness about the promise and potential of careers in the bioworkforce.
- Improve data and analytic capacity and cross-sector collaboration to advance equity and support effective workforce development—including the development of industry-recognized credentials and competency models.
Over the coming months and years, the interagency working group—led by OSTP, DPC, ED,DOL, and DOC—will continue to push this work forward—including identifying and undertaking new actions in support of this plan’s goals as opportunities arise. Consistent with the E.O., the group will provide a report on progress to the President within the next two years.