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Workforce Development Programs Ensure Trained and Skilled Life Sciences Worker Pipeline in South Carolina

Workforce blog montage.

South Carolina’s leading life sciences organization, SCbio, is championing workforce development programs to continue the state’s success as a top U.S. life sciences hub by creating a trained and skilled workforce pipeline.

James Chappell, president and chief executive officer at SCbio, said these programs are the difference maker for companies looking to launch in or move to South Carolina and need access to a trained workforce from the start.

Technical College Certificate Program Sets Strong Foundation for Students

Along with industry and academic partners, SCbio embraced the workforce pipeline challenge, launching the SCbio Life Sciences Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturing certificate programs in collaboration with the state’s technical college system and industry partners.

The 48-hour certificate program provides an overview of the industry and an introduction to practical applications, including documentation practices, measurement skills, quality assurance and a regulatory overview. The certificates can currently be earned at Midlands Technical, Tri-County Technical and Greenville Technical colleges.

“These manufacturing certificates were developed by the industry, and they helped inform what kind of training was needed,” explained Erin Ford, chief operating officer of SCbio. “We want to make sure our workforce training is specifically aligned with the needs of the industry.”

BCSI Ensures Microcredentials Meet Industry Needs

Another workforce development partnership contributing to the state’s future growth is the Bioscience Core Skills Institute (BCSI), a group of academics who train students for positions within the biotechnology industry. Students earn “microcredentials,” the skills that strengthen an employee’s knowledge base. Ford said BSCI-trained evaluators proctor students’ testing for their training certificates, ensuring that what is being taught is relevant to current industry needs.

SCbio built a coalition of stakeholders from across the industry and academia to zero in on the industry’s needs, Ford said. Members of this coalition meet regularly to discuss current programs and future needs as the life sciences industry continues to gain traction as a cornerstone of South Carolina’s economy.

One area of agreement is that students need to learn of opportunities within the life sciences long before they enter college, as early as in middle school.  Ford said many young people do not realize the availability of well-paying industry jobs that do not require advanced college degrees.

Mobile Game Gets Young Students Interested in Life Sciences

To help reach these students, SCbio partnered with Greenville-based SkillsGapp to create RadLab, a mobile game that allows students to try different roles in the life sciences, including manufacturing, nursing and more. Like other games, the students can level up in their career paths and gain more skills. Students can design and test new drugs and attempt to earn regulatory approval. They can also manage the manufacturing and distribution of medications.

Ford noted the mobile game is geolocated to South Carolina. The companies in the game are the same companies that operate within the Palmetto State. She said the students not only learn about the skills necessary to work in the life sciences but also gain an understanding of what companies are operating in their backyards.

These workforce training efforts, along with other programs conducted by the state’s colleges and universities, will pave the way for continued growth of the life sciences industry within South Carolina, Ford said.

“At SCbio, we want to make sure these opportunities are there to support the future of this state,” Ford said. 

These South Carolina life science insights are authored by life sciences writer @Alex Keown, and provided by Inspire Agency and SCbio.  

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Tamia Sumpter

Tamia is a driven senior undergraduate Bioengineering student currently enrolled at Clemson University. With a strong foundation in her field, she has honed her skills through hands-on experience in research and development at Eli Lilly & Company. During her time in the ADME department, Tamia contributed significantly by working on siRNAs and their applications in finding In Vitro-In Vivo Correlation (IVIVC). Looking ahead, Tamia has set her sights on a promising career in law. She aspires to specialize in Intellectual Property Law, with a particular focus on serving as in-house counsel for leading medical device or pharmaceutical companies. Her enthusiasm for this role is palpable as she prepares to embark on her legal journey! She is also a proud member of the Omicron Phi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., PEER Mentor for Clemson PEER/WiSE, and currently serves as the President of Clemson Bioengineering Organization (CBO). With her unique blend of scientific knowledge and legal interests, Tamia is poised to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare and life sciences industries.