The journey for any new, innovative medicine, treatment, medical device, medical technology and diagnostic tool is complex, costly and time-consuming — yet, the benefits of medical innovation are incalculable.
Highly educated life sciences professionals with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) play integral roles at every phase of this journey — from concept to the laboratory, to trials, to government approval, and, finally, to patients around the globe.
In a report on advanced industries, the Brookings Institution found that the biopharmaceutical industry has the nation’s highest STEM-fueled research and development (R&D) spending per worker, far exceeding the next highest industry, communications equipment, by more than 57 percent.
STEM-related skills also drive the other life sciences sectors, including the biotechnology, medical technology, medical device and diagnostics sectors.
The United States’ and Life Sciences’ STEM Challenge
The United States and the life sciences community today confront a challenge relating to STEM education and workforce pipeline.
Relative declines in achievement and interest in STEM fields in the U.S. have resulted in an inadequate supply of workers with STEM skills and education, while the demand for STEM talent has continued to increase.
The need for a STEM-educated workforce’s impact goes well beyond life sciences innovation. The nation’s STEM workforce also contributes significantly to economic productivity and global competitiveness.
STEM jobs fuel economic growth in many ways, including through higher wages and a higher employment multiplier.
This means that STEM-centric industries — including the life sciences — generally support a greater number of additional jobs across the economy compared with other industries.
The average median hourly wage for U.S. STEM jobs is $37.44, more than double the median of $18.68 for all other types of U.S. jobs.
According to a 2012 report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the U.S. needs to produce 1 million additional STEM graduates over the
next decade to maintain its preeminent position as the world’s leader in science
and technology innovation.
The State of STEM Education in the U.S.
Around the globe, an increasing number of countries have recognized the economic benefits of a robust STEM-skilled workforce.
According to the National Math + Science Initiative, the U.S. is losing its historic competitive edge in math and science as other nations advance steadily. Consequently, our knowledge capital, which fuels innovation and economic growth, is at risk, making the U.S. less competitive in the global marketplace.
In the U.S., we also are faced with the challenges of closing the present STEM education gaps with females and minorities as well as of improving teacher preparation in STEM education.
‘STEM: Building a 21st Century Workforce to Develop Tomorrow’s New Medicines’
Few industries are as committed as the life sciences sector to improving the pipeline of STEM workers in the U.S.
Consequently, the U.S. life sciences sector has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to finding multiple, practical ways to improve the quality of STEM education — from kindergarten through high school, and to the college-university level and beyond.
The Battelle Technology Partnership Practice published a report in 2014 — supported by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) — that discussed the integral role of STEM education, skills and training to the life sciences industry as well as to U.S. economic growth and sustainability.
The report, “STEM: Building a 21st Century Workforce to Develop Tomorrow’s New Medicines,” also provided, for the first time, a review and description of the broad range of STEM efforts supported by 24 PhRMA member companies — including 12 current member companies of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ) — and their corporate foundations in the U.S.
Among the Battelle report’s key findings:
STEM‐related occupations make up a high share of the biopharmaceutical manufacturing component of the broader industry.
Nearly 30 percent of industry jobs fall into STEM groups, according to available federal data.
1/3 of the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry’s workers are in STEM occupations.
U.S. biopharmaceutical manufacturing has a 5-times greater concentration of STEM jobs compared to the rest of the U.S. economy.
Nearly 2/3 of these individuals employed in biopharmaceutical manufacturing work as chemists, medical scientists, biological and chemical technicians, science managers, biochemists, microbiologists and other highly trained scientific occupations.
The Battelle report also presented an overview of how 24 survey-participating PhRMA member companies and their U.S. foundations invested in STEM education activities over the previous five years.
Companies invested more than $100 million in STEM education-related initiatives.
Companies awarded nearly 600 individual STEM education-related grants.
Companies leveraged the skills and talents of nearly 4,500 industry company employees as volunteers in STEM programs and initiatives.
These company employees volunteered nearly 27,000 hours.
Companies supported or served more than 17,500 STEM teachers.
Companies impacted more than 1.6 million students in STEM‐related education programs at all grade and educational levels.
Companies supported or funded more than 90 individual initiatives targeting students and/or teachers at all levels in STEM‐related fields.
Companies supported STEM programs in 26 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
According to the Battelle report, over the previous five years, these 24 biopharmaceutical companies and their corporate foundations — including 12 current member companies of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ) — made significant contributions to STEM education through a broad range of innovative programs in communities across the country:
- Companies made generous financial and “in-kind” donations through grants, equipment donations and/or facilities for education purposes, employee volunteerism and expertise.
- Companies encouraged new and practical approaches to STEM education, including engagement of students and teachers through hands-on experimentation and employing real-world scientific tools and curricula to connect with, and educate, students and teachers in laboratory settings.
- Companies worked toward helping create a diverse 21st century U.S. STEM workforce, significantly focusing their efforts on women and minorities in ways that could help them pursue rewarding careers in STEM-related fields.
According to the Battelle report, survey-participating PhRMA member companies, in the previous five years, contributed “in‐kind” in multiple ways across individual education programs:
Employee volunteers (32 programs; 59 percent of all in‐kind activity)
Donation or allowed use of lab or other equipment (10 programs; 19 percent of all in‐kind activity)
Allowed use or donation of facilities (5 programs; 9 percent of all in‐kind activity)
Support in other capacities, including technical and communications support (7 programs; 13 percent of all in‐kind activity)
Programmatically, the 2014 Battelle report found that survey-participating PhRMA member companies and their U.S. foundations invested in the following STEM education programs:
The Battelle report also reported the focus of industry‐supported STEM education programs:
The Battelle report further reported that survey-participating PhRMA member companies contributed to STEM education programs at all levels during the previous five years:
Life Sciences Companies’ STEM Activities in New Jersey
Life sciences companies also are supporting STEM education activities in New Jersey.
- Amgen Foundation
- Bayer USA Foundation
- Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
- Celgene Corporation
- Daiichi Sankyo, Inc.
- Eisai USA Foundation
- Eli Lilly and Company
- Johnson & Johnson
- Merck & Co., Inc.
- Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
- Novo Nordisk, Inc.
- Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Battelle reported the following regarding survey-participating PhRMA members’ New Jersey STEM activities over the previous five years:
- The number of STEM jobs projected to be filled in New Jersey by 2018 is 269,000.
- Companies supported at least 27 STEM education programs in New Jersey.
- New Jersey programs reflected a wide variety of innovative programs, including hands-on, experiential learning for students and professional development for educators.
- Companies supported 14 national-level STEM programs that were open to New Jersey students and teachers.
To learn more about how PhRMA and HINJ member companies invested in New Jersey STEM activities, please click here.
STEM Education Resources
- Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, “STEM: Building a 21st Century Workforce to Develop Tomorrow’s New Medicines,” prepared for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), January 2014.
- Center for School, College & Career Resources, Science and Technology Careers: learnhowtobecome.org/science-technology-careers/Choose New Jersey.
- Choose New Jersey, Colleges and Universities, August 2016.
- Choose New Jersey, Education and Workforce, August 2016.
- Executive Office of the President of the United States, Office of Science and Technology Policy.
- Executive Office of the President of the United States, Office of Science and Technology Policy, “Progress Report on Coordinating Federal Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education,” March 2016.
- National Science + Math Initiative (NSMI), Stem Education Statistics.
- National Science Board, “Science and Engineering Indicators 2016.”
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), “The Economic Impact of the U.S. Biopharmaceutical Industry: National and State Estimates,” May 2016.
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), “New Jersey: The Innovative Biopharmaceutical Industry’s Contributions to STEM Education,” January 2014.
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), From Hope to Cures (Website).
- United States Department of Education, “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Education for Global Leadership.”
- The White House, Educate to Innovate.
- The White House, “STEM for All,” February 11, 2016.