GBC’s Fry: Attracting bioscience workers to Maryland

Don Fry Commentary on WYPR

A global bioscience company has 60 jobs open at its Rockville facility awaiting qualified candidates to fill them.

A Germantown pharmaceuticals firm recently lost a senior executive to North Carolina.

Why aren’t workers flocking to Maryland, a well-known bioscience research leader with what most who live here agree is a great quality of life?

Recently, the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board asked recruiters what bioscience job candidates are saying about the prospect of working in Maryland.

The No. 1 issue? Transportation, recruiters say. Potential bioscience workers don’t see easy access to companies in the I-270 corridor. And the thought of traveling between I-270 and Baltimore horrifies them. The reverse is also true. Those considering working in Greater Baltimore voice concern that, if they lose their job and have to find another one in Montgomery County, the commute would be unbearable.

Housing cost is the number two issue. Entry-level workers say they will have to live far away from work or share living space. Mid-level and senior workers face trading large, comfortable homes in North Carolina or Indiana for smaller or older ones in Maryland.

A lack of bioscience industry critical mass is a factor as well. Maryland’s bioscience sector is not yet replete with large, well-established companies, and there are fewer places to go if workers want to change jobs. The Baltimore and I-270 gap contributes to this perception, recruiters say. Also, as in any industry, people who work in bioscience want to know that there are others like them in sufficient numbers for collaboration, mentoring, and partnering. Especially for older, experienced workers, the idea of having to uproot to find the next position is not appealing.

All of this, however, is not to say that job candidates don’t want to come here. Many do. But the goal is for Maryland to be a place where everyone wants to work.

We do offer a very high quality of life. To a person, recruiters agree that Maryland should be selling this … hard … to all of our potential workers – in bioscience and every other industry.

For the Regional Business Report, this is Don Fry, President of the Greater Baltimore Committee, for 88.1 WYPR, your NPR news station.

Comments are closed.