Kansas Bioscience Begins Series of Workforce Hot Team Meetings

Wichita group is first of eight to meet, brainstorm to prepare for workforce demands of growing bioscience industry

Industry and education leaders learned today that Kansas's bioscience industry is bigger, more diverse and  more promising as a future economic engine than many of them realized.

The Wichita group is the first of eight that will meet around the state over the coming weeks to talk about how to best prepare the labor force in all parts of the state for the jobs that will emerge as the industry grows.

Wichita representatives heard from two speakers from widely divergent sectors of the industry: Dr. Paul Wooley, who is leading research into the use of composite materials to make medical devices at the Center for Innovation for Biomaterials in Orthopedic Research (CIBOR) and Monique Garcia, a government relations and public affairs leader at ICM in Colwich, a leading designer and builder of ethanol plants.

Wooley said CIBOR already has three contracts for making medical equipment such as stretchers and operating room tables, giving the program short-term promise even though FDA approval for implantable devices might still be a decade away.

And ICM is already a well-established entity in south central Kansas. Its technology and design is already in use in 102 of the 189 operating ethanol plants in North America.

But what surprised many of the participants was the commonality of workforce needs of those diverse companies -- scientists, chemists, process engineers, microbiologists, quality control and quality insurance experts, validation workers and regulatory specialists are in demand at both. And those same kind of workers are equally in demand throughout the bioscience industry cluster in northeast Kansas.

In the coming weeks, Kansas Bio hopes to identify ways to increase training and education of employees who will be ready for future jobs throughout the industry. It is a commendable effort being led by an organization that has already proved its merit in getting the Kansas industry on the map.

To learn about what is happening with bioscience in Kansas and to follow the progress of the Workforce Hot Teams, log on to www.kansasbioauthority.org.

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