January 8, 2021

Growing the Data Science Workforce in Massachusetts

A former computer scientist, EDC vice president Sarita Pillai has watched the number of data science jobs skyrocket over the past few years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, data science jobs are among the fastest growing occupations in the country. In Massachusetts, employers posted over 23,000 jobs in data science in 2018 alone.

“It’s not surprising,” Pillai notes, “Big data is here to stay—whether we’re talking about the role of data science in artificial intelligence or business intelligence. Across all fields—from medicine to manufacturing to sports and entertainment—data scientists and analysts are in very high demand.”

But like many other states, Massachusetts is struggling to expand its data science workforce and increase the diversity of the workforce to ensure innovation. A new series of online panels, hosted by EDC, MassBioEd, and Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, aims to tackle this issue for the bioscience industry, one of the fastest growing in Massachusetts.

In the first panel held on December 9, moderator Karla Talanian, director of Talent & Workforce Development for MassBioEd, and four life sciences industry leaders discussed the essential skills and competencies that students need to pursue a data science career. A second panel titled “Data Science Education Policy Support” is scheduled for January 13 and will be moderated by A. Wade Blackman, district director for policy, Office of Congresswoman Katherine Clark.

The series is intended to inform the design of a statewide strategic plan that helps more students, especially students who have been historically underrepresented in STEM, pursue careers in data science in the life sciences. In addition to creating pathways from high school to post-graduate degrees for scientific careers, a key focus is to identify opportunities for community college graduates to fill mid-skill/technical data science positions to support the business operations of life science companies.

“We’re honored to have these state leaders join us in diversifying the state’s innovation economy workforce,” Pillai said. “They are heading up exciting work to strengthen career and technical education, create new career pathways, and support adult learners.”

Registration for the remaining panels is free and open to the public.