Thursday, May 14, 2009

Biotech Jobs And Training In Virginia

WhatCanBiotechDoForYou Question of the Day on May 13

I am a Chemical Engineer with 30+ yrs. experience in a variety of materials processing industries. Now I’m preparing to go to school to gain stronger technical background for a position in biotech. Can you refer me to any contacts for advice on specific school programs that would be most useful?May 13th, 2009

Hi Terry. Given the state of the economy, it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that our sister site receives a lot of similar requests every week. It turns out that a good number of folks are now looking to the biotech industry when exploring their career options.
The Virginia Biotechnology Association for example has received so many queries that they’ve launched a career center website for local biotech jobs in Virginia. Now while that’s all good and interesting, it doesn’t really address your question. What does is another project that the Virginia Biotechnology Association has established called VCATS.

VCATS is co-led by the Virginia Biotechnology Association, Virginia Manufacturers Association, and Training & Development Corporation. What these co-sponsors (and other states!) have realized is that there must be a program that solves the critical and growing skill shortage locally. With more than 100,000 retirements among manufacturing workers anticipated over the next ten years, including 45,000 technically skilled workers, Virginia is currently failing to qualify their replacements.

What VCATS does is provide an easily accessible solution to this problem. They are developing a three-tier certification system for work in biotechnology laboratories. This system will be recognized (at the very least) statewide, and may provide an innovative model for those regions not already considering programs like this. By setting basic standards, employers can hire with greater confidence, and more biotech businesses will know that Virginia is an attractive destination for them.

And speaking of employers… in Virginia alone, the local employers partnering and co-investing in VCATS include: Alcoa, Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals, Merck, Micron Technologies, Novozymes Biologicals, Philip Morris, and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. Other principal partners include the Maryland Biotechnology Association, Virginia Community College System, Virginia Career Education Foundation, Virginia Department of Business Assistance, and the Capital Area, Northern Virginia, and Richmond Workforce Investment Boards.

So I would encourage you to look up your local state or regional biotech organization (assuming you don’t live in Virginia) and ask if they too are starting a biotech certification program. It sounds like a perfect match for what you’re looking for.

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