Eight students at Central Carolina Community College are the first to earn certificates in the school’s BioWork program, according to a July 28 news release.

BioWork is a program that can lead to an entry-level position as a process technician. Students learn the foundational skills needed for a career with a biotechnology, pharmaceutical or chemical manufacturing company.

“This cohort possesses significant manufacturing experience, leadership, and a passion for helping people,” Dr. Lisa Smelser, the college’s lead instructor of Biotechnology Programs, said of the class.

“I look forward to seeing them thrive in the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry.”

Smelser notes that the BioWork course offers a wide range of experiences with a similar career goal of working at a biopharmaceutical company to make life-saving medicine.

Another 15 students are expected to earn the BioWork certificate in August.

With the recent announcements of Pfizer’s expansion and the opening of Audentes Therapeutics, it’s even more important that we prepare people for the jobs that will be available locally.

Pfizer, the world’s largest biopharmaceutical company, announced earlier this year that the Sanford plant will undergo a $500 million expansion to advance its state of the art gene therapy facility. At completion, this project will employ about 300 people.

Audentes Therapeutics recently announced that it will open a new facility in Sanford. This life-sciences company is locating in Central Carolina Enterprise Park and will create 209 jobs that pay an average salary of $83,900.

Company leaders have indicated a high level of interest in hiring local talent.

Tina Blue, of Sanford, was among the first students in the BioWork course. She said she chose to participate in the program because she was ready to steer her future in the direction of growth and stability.

“Industry forecasts and projections in this field are expected to grow over the next 10 years. I felt that this industry, and the growth within the industry over time, made it an excellent industry to pursue,” Blue said.

“What I enjoyed most about the BioWork course is how the course educates you on the foundations of bioprocessing and assists you in understanding how the products of bioprocessing and biopharmaceutical impact your life,” Blue said.

Felicia R. Crittenden is the college’s associate dean of Workforce Development & Continuing Education.

“BioWork offers a unique opportunity for students at CCCC to engage in a curriculum that provides firsthand knowledge in a vastly emerging and important field,” she said.

“Students pursuing this program will gain the skills required to compete in a high-tech field and secure a comfortable living wage with various companies within the CCCC service region and beyond.”

BioWork is an excellent entry into the college’s Bioprocess Technology degree program. Its curriculum is designed to prepare individuals to work as process operators in biological manufacturing facilities such as those in the biopharmaceutical industry.

To learn more about the Bioprocess Technology program, visit www.cccc.edu/curriculum/majors/bioprocess/.