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A version of this story appeared in Go West, STAT’s weekly newsletter about West Coast life sciences, health care, and biotech. Sign up here to receive it in your inbox.

SAN FRANCISCO — Coding boot camps have proliferated here, as a way to train workers to get entry-level jobs in the booming tech industry. Now, a local biohacker wants to adapt that model in biotech, with an online education program aimed at teaching job seekers how to pipette and centrifuge in the lab.

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  • This is a weird idea. First of all, there is a glut of PhDs that want out of academia. Industry prefers to hire those with industry experience, though, so some PhDs cannot even get in. Why would we need these half-trained wannabes and who would hire them? A solid chem/biochem background is a must to succeed on the bench.

  • There might be some Bay Area-specific problem where new people with the required skills simply can’t afford to move there when paid the lab assistant’s salary – so some long-term residents can be trained and paid more than for driving a delivery truck. Elsewhere in the country there is a huge excess of lab support staff wannabees with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the life sciences field, mostly due to our stupid system of medical education (many more pre-meds graduate from college with those degrees than the number of med, dental and vet school slots – so the excess fills the labor market whether there is demand or not. Frustrated, graduates spend another year doing the M.S. in hope this improves their employability). Zero problem finding someone to hire with the Masters and 5 years experience in molecular biology for $25/hr.

  • As pharma/biotech companies keep upgrading technicians with bachelor and master degrees to the rank of fully-fledged scientists, then there must be plenty of opportunities for uneducated people to pretend being worthy of an associate/technician title/job.

    Besides, the sector is already overcrowded as it is, despite the commonly misguided wisdom that there are plenty of jobs and not enough skilled workers to fill those positions. Just trying to create more competition to drive down salaries, I guess

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