Training Long Islanders to Meet the Needs of Drug and Biotech Firms

To remedy the current shortage of skilled workers, Long Island firms must join forces to educate and retain local talent.

As a father and an executive in the healthcare product industry, I have been personally and professionally troubled by the lack of technical career educational opportunities for high school and college graduates on Long Island, NY. Long Island used to lead the way in technology during the Cold War, but in years since, skilled workers and college graduates have been leaving the area to take advantage of opportunities elsewhere. Because the long-term success and profitability of the drug industry on Long Island depends upon maintaining a viable workforce, training current and future employees is paramount.

Because I don't want to see my children permanently leave the island and because companies like mine need talented workers, I have joined with several other executives to educate Long Islanders and to encourage them to seek positions at Long Island firms. Pharmaceutical and allied industry manufacturers in the Long Island area need to address their common need for trained personnel, so we have banded together to achieve a trained workforce. Operating within the Long Island Forum for Technology (LIFT) organization, we established LIFT Pharma, a consortium of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and cosmetic industries on Long Island that seeks to promote common understanding, education, and technology in a way that maintains the integrity and growth of these industries. We have developed an educational program for high school students considering career-specific education, for seasoned employees seeking additional career development for future advancement, and for other individuals seeking entry-level positions. LIFT Pharma's Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Training Program curriculum will focus on issues such as quality control and quality assurance, technical manufacturing, production and maintenance, FDA regulatory compliance, and good manufacturing practices. The program is scheduled to launch in fall 2001.

We have already garnered support from several industry leaders, including DuPont Pharmaceuticals, Forest Labs, Capsugel, Cybex Pharmaceutical, Twin Laboratories, Country Life, Nastech Pharmaceuticals, Westbury Diagnostics, Estée Lauder, and several other firms, some of which aren't even located on the island. The Center for Biotechnology at Stony Brook, located on the campus of SUNY Stony Brook, and SUNY Farmingdale both support this initiative.

 

Collaboration can result in the long-term success of the Long Island pharmaceutical industry.

Lorrence H. Green, PhD, LIFT
member and president of Westbury Diagnostics Inc. (Farmingdale, NY)

But this program is meaningless without industry support and participation. Although many of the firms currently supporting the initiative are traditionally considered competitors, their collaboration can result in the long-term success of the Long Island pharmaceutical industry. We invite all Long Island manufacturers to take part in LIFT Pharma by joining LIFT, by supporting the educational program, and by encouraging students and workers to take courses.

Twenty years ago, Long Island business leaders recognized the need for an organization that would focus its resources and mission on the development of science and technology-based industries in the region and founded LIFT as a nonprofit membership organization. In 2000, LIFT reinvigorated its dedication to serving the pharmaceutical and other industries. LIFT's mission is to grow the manufacturing and technology businesses of Long Island through hands-on application of technology and know-how plus membership benefits.

Green spoke at a press conference at Interphex last March. For more information on LIFT Pharma, please contact Paul Cimmino, program manager, pharmaceutical services, at e-mail liftpharma@lift.org, phone 631/755-3321, or fax 631/755-9264.

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