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New bioscience program comes at the right time
Photos and Story by James Hill
Kelly Payne, 38, worked for a Tel-co company, which fits new houses with fiber optics. It was a good career for the Hillsboro resident, but in May of this year he was laid off due to the downturn in the housing market.
Instead of a long layoff and maybe having to take a job he was overqualified for, Payne discovered a new program when he was at the Oregon Employment Department. He was told it would pay his tuition, books and, at the end, give him a foot in the door with four of the areas top bioscience companies.
“Personally it has been great,” said Payne, in his fifth week in the program. “It has been invaluable. It was a second chance for me and an opportunity to get into an industry that may be an entry-level position but has the potential for me to grow by leaps and bounds within a company.”
Genentech, along with fellow bioscience firms HemCon, Welch Allyn and Precision Wire Components, selected students for PCC’s new bioscience technology short-term training program. The Bioscience Technician Certificate of Completion is a 13-credit-hour program consisting of three classes: Bioscience Technology Basics, Quality Systems in Biotechnology, and Exploring Bioscience.
Genentech has funded 40 scholarships for students who want to pursue a career in bioscience. After successful completion of the certificate, students will be eligible to interview with the companies for entry-level operator positions. So far, 13 students were selected this summer to go through the first 13-week session from more than 500 applications and, according to Linda Browning, the business services coordinator at PCC’s Capital Career Center, the companies and the college are looking for more students.
The pathway also dovetails into PCC’s new bioscience technology program, which started this fall and offers students a chance to earn an associate’s degree. The college discontinued a similar biotechnology program five years ago due to budget cuts. The state-approved bioscience technology program was resurrected and revised to meet industry needs. The program is based at the Rock Creek Campus (17705 N.W. Springville Road).
At the end of the short-term training, students will get an interview with the bioscience companies in the consortium. They will have skills working with relevant machinery and will know how to work in a sterile environment, which are skills of a biotechnology technician.
“They are looking for real team players,” said Payne, who stated that applicants should have some math and computer skills. “If you have the right person with the right attitude to learn you can teach them anything.”
Genentech Inc. recently opened a new West Coast warehouse and distribution center in Hillsboro that employs about 300 workers. The San Francisco-based company develops, manufactures and commercializes biotherapeutics for various medical needs.
Genentech chose Hillsboro partly because of the quality workforce training through PCC. A partnership between PCC Capital Career Center, PCC Customized and Workplace Training, Genentech and the bioscience technology department was formed to create the process of building a “pipeline” of trained workers that will meet the needs of the emerging bioscience industry well into the future.
“A college institution as large as PCC can be incredible in the workforce development realm,” said Paul Wild, director of Customized and Workplace Training. “If we are labor market responsive, and find what our business clusters or companies need, we can devise education and training that will have a very large, positive impact on local economy. It is the beauty of what a community college can do here.”
And the beauty is seeing that smile from Kelly Payne, who went from being worried about providing for his family to feeling good about his future employment.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “It is a complete turn from what I was doing before. I haven’t been this excited about work in years.”
For more information on the Bioscience Technician Certificate of Completion call (503) 533-2535.