Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, WRAL TechWire features a story highlighting the NC Bio Jobs Hub initiative. Go to the Bio Jobs Hub for more stories and info on life sciences job opportunities made possible by NC’s workforce training initiatives.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – North Carolina military service members are taking the next step in their careers thanks to a program linking their interpersonal and leadership skills with targeted technical training.
They’re garnering career skills through the Military Service Members in Biopharma Manufacturing (MSMBM) initiative. That’s a public-private partnership that covers manufacturing certification tuition costs at educational institutions in North Carolina and Texas.
Up to 25 North Carolina military service members, veterans and their spouses are participating in BioWork certificate programs at Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) and Durham Technical Community College. Once training is complete, corporate partners Pfizer and Merck will connect the trainees to career opportunities in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Both companies have large manufacturing operations in the Research Triangle area.
CCCC hosted the first cohort May 24 through June 21. The four-week program ended with a combination of 11 former military members, veterans and spouses certified to begin positions in biomanufacturing. Durham Tech is beginning an eight-week training for service members on July 7.
The BioWork certificate is the first step for those seeking positions within the biomanufacturing field. Courses teach students the foundational skills needed to begin a successful career in biopharma manufacturing, including current good manufacturing practices, technology and equipment processes, quality control, biomanufacturing operations fundamentals and more.
“Explicitly offering BioWork for our military community provides a unique opportunity to illuminate transferable skills from military experiences, which are uniquely positioned to connect to the biopharma industry,” said Lisa Smelser, EdD, CCCC’s lead instructor for biotechnology programs.
The latest initiative is not the first time the state has reached out to introduce military members to jobs in biomanufacturing. In 2019, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center hosted a free three-hour BioWork Blitz workshop series at Fort Bragg to provide a unique opportunity to learn about the industry and the BioWork certification program.
The BioWork Blitz workshops were designed to build greater awareness of rewarding life sciences careers. During these sessions, students learned about personal protective equipment, gowning procedures and biopharma industry growth and careers.
Elizabeth Ellis, NCBiotech’s director of workforce development and Veterans Outreach Program lead said, “These training initiatives provide an excellent learning environment for the military community and those seeking to explore the many careers offered in biopharma manufacturing.” Careers in the life sciences offer a unique opportunity to work with a purpose while providing a better quality of life for others. The life sciences sector is growing and N.C. employers are seeking exceptional talent to fill these important career roles.
Public-private partnerships support initiative
The MSMBM is funded by a $400,000 grant from the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals and is a collaboration between public and private partners dedicated to growing the life sciences pipeline. The lead organizations for MSMBM are NCBiotech and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station via its National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing. Texas, like North Carolina, has a substantial military presence and will benefit directly from the program.
(C) N.C. Biotech Center