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NIIMBL Workshop Focuses on Strategies to Strengthen U.S. Biopharma Workforce



Attracting new talent to the industry. Industry immersion experiences. Collaboration and partnership. These are among the key themes identified as focus areas for NIIMBL’s workforce development efforts during a recent workforce development strategy workshop held in Philadelphia on April 23-24. The session aimed to collect ideas and begin informing a set of actionable strategies and projects in which NIIMBL is uniquely-positioned to add value to members, complement the existing project landscape, and benefit the biopharma manufacturing industry.


Hosted by Thomas Jefferson University, the workshop included 30 participants, primarily comprised of representatives from NIIMBL’s large industry members with additional contributors from universities, community colleges, and non-profits.


The two-day discussion began by recapping the history of NIIMBL, the Institute’s workforce activities, and other U.S. workforce development efforts focused on the biopharmaceutical industry.


From there, participants dug into an in-depth brainstorming session facilitated by NIIMBL Workforce Director John Balchunas with assistance from Jim DeKloe (Solano Community College) and Jason Davis (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute).


Participants conducted a SWOT analysis of current academic training programs and curricula as well as training programs for industry workers. The exercise helped the team hone in on a number of guiding principles and priorities to shape NIIMBL workforce development efforts:


·        Raise awareness and attract new talent.

·        Engage industry.

·        Forecast and understand needs.

·        Leverage and share available resources.

·        Collaborate broadly.

·        Utilize a variety of education and training delivery strategies.

·        Harmonize and align efforts nationally.

·        Encourage diversity.

·        Develop diverse and robust skill sets.

·        Connect students and graduates with jobs.


NIIMBL’s Workforce team is now working to integrate, refine, share, and leverage these ideas through programmatic changes, communication initiatives, and some exciting new projects.


“As the biopharmaceutical industry moves into new product modalities such as cell and gene-based therapies, it will be critical that the United States maintain a competitive workforce. The enthusiastic cross-functional engagement of both industry and academia at this workshop confirmed and jumpstarted a number of strategic new directions for NIIMBL’s Workforce team that will help ensure we maintain a competitive edge,” said John Balchunas.

Join the workforce team in two back to back sessions as they first discuss the past, present, and future of biopharmaceutical manufacturing education, training, and workforce development in the United States. Small group discussion in the second session will then tackle some of the current workforce development challenges we face as a community including how to:


  • Understand, share, and forecast industry talent and workforce needs,
  • Expand access and availability of training solutions and successful models, and
  • Collaborate more and compete less as educators and training providers


Both sessions are open to all NIIMBL members. Registration for the National Meeting is open at

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