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As national and international life science and biotechnology companies plan to expand to Durham and create new jobs, the demand for local talent is increasing.

Durham Technical Community College and the NC Community College System are partnering with Durham-based KBI BioPharma to launch a pilot program to train Triangle residents for careers in the life science and biotechnology industries.

“Durham is meeting the demand for a talent pipeline for the burgeoning life sciences industry,” Durham Tech President JB Buxton said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Durham is responding to build an equitable and diverse talent pool that connects our residents to these great jobs, enabling them to support their families, thrive, build community and thrive here in Durham and the greater Triangle area.

The partnership with KBI BioPharma, a contract manufacturing biopharmaceutical company, aims to develop the state’s talent pool into which current and future Triangle companies hope to recruit. The partnership also hopes to increase career access for workers who may not have a college degree or who have been displaced by the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-year pilot program will focus on high school graduates and U.S. Army veterans and will provide up to 6,000 hours of on-the-job training in bioproduction, upstream and downstream manufacturing, maintenance and other areas, in addition to 928 hours of relevant coursework. at Durham Tech.

The apprenticeship has started recruiting candidates and is expected to launch in July this year. Apprentices will be paid for their training and their tuition fees will be covered by KBI.

“This initiative in particular is a great opportunity to bridge the gap and create a sustainable workforce for the growing sector and to be people in our life science communities,” said Dirk Lange , Chairman and CEO of KBI. “We are investing in the future of our business and are also making this investment in the future of many young adults.”

Part of the training will include support from industry professionals to mentor apprentices. Although the pilot program will start with just four apprentices, the program hopes to expand to include 20 or more apprentices, Lange said.

Apprentices will not be under contract to be hired by KBI BioPharma, but will enter as eligible candidates for positions paying up to $ 45,000 per year.

Since 2018, the life sciences industry has accounted for about 4,600 new jobs in County Durham and an investment of $ 1.65 billion, according to county officials. During the same period, more than 8,900 jobs and $ 6.2 billion in investment were represented by industry across the Triangle.

NC Community Colleges President Thomas Stith III said the program is part of the state college system’s NC Apprenticeship program, which partners with industries to train workers and has served more than 15,000 students in statewide.

“The apprenticeships help North Carolina stay competitive in a market that is not defined by a region and is no longer defined by our country,” said Stith. “We are in a global market and learning is the foundation to help North Carolina compete in this global market.”

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