Because alternative protein (especially cultivated meat) is a relatively new field, it is sometimes difficult for startups to find people with the technical skills needed who are also interested in working in this area. Many students do not seriously consider the alternative protein industry as a career path or do not know what opportunities match their skills. Similarly, those further into their careers might not immediately see the value in alternative proteins as a research direction. The lack of a robust talent pipeline can mean that hiring takes longer or that companies have to hire people without the necessary qualifications and then spend time training them. The industry would also benefit from more scientists pursuing alternative protein research within an academic setting.
Outreach to STEM students will increase the number of scientists and engineers entering the workforce in both academia and industry. Outreach can take the form of guest lectures, courses, student groups, career fairs, or other events. Alternative protein researchers and startups are well-positioned to lead these efforts, and collaborative efforts involving academia and industry could be especially beneficial. For example, startups could work with universities to offer internship programs and partner with professors to offer industry-relevant content in the classroom. Because many of the positions alternative protein companies are looking to fill will require specialized expertise and potentially years of experience, outreach to scientists further into their careers is also necessary. Presentations at relevant scientific conferences and academic publications on alternative protein research may be effective ways of reaching mid-career scientists. While nonprofits can play some role here, academic scientists already interested in alternative proteins will be the most effective advocates when the intended audience is their peers. Availability of research grants will be a major factor in scientists’ decisions to pursue alternative protein projects, and policymakers and donors can play a role in making these opportunities available.
The alternative protein talent pool is slowly expanding. However, deliberate and coordinated efforts by scientists, startups, and nonprofits in the alternative protein field will accelerate the development of a robust talent pipeline to power the future of food. The recent high-profile successes of plant-based and cultivated meat have brought alternative proteins into the public consciousness more than ever before, which may lead scientists to be more open to this career path and catalyze the pace of technological progress.
- The Alt Protein Project is a global student movement dedicated to increasing alternative protein education, research, and innovation at universities.
- GFI hosts a quarterly career call for people to learn more about working in the alternative protein field.
- Pioneers of the future of food highlights the unique career paths of scientists and engineers working at alternative protein companies.
- GFI maintains a directory of alternative protein researchers and those looking to apply their expertise from adjacent fields.
- GFI also maintains a talent database for the alternative protein industry.Job seekers can add themselves here.
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