of Charlottesville Announces Establishment of Workforce Development
Training Program for Laboratory Specialists
21, 1999 -- The City
of Charlottesville, the Weed and Seed Network, the University
of Virginia, and Piedmont Virginia Community College are pleased
to announce a collaborative effort in establishing an innovative
workforce training program to be located on West Main Street's emerging
"Technology Corridor". This program has been designed to teach City
residents the highly marketable employment skills of laboratory
specialists. This initiative will support the Charlottesville community
by providing participants an opportunity for a college-level education
and career advancement in a growing area of technology. In turn,
this highly trained workforce will provide the workers needed to
meet the local employment demands of the City's growing technology
high technology businesses currently suffer a critical shortage
of laboratory technicians, senior laboratory technicians and laboratory
specialists. U.Va. staffs 300 such positions and, as of April 1999,
51 of these positions were vacant. Other Charlottesville-based biotechnology
companies such as Argonex and Contravac will also serve as employers
to graduating research workers. Virginia Biotechnology Association
has stated that, by the year 2010, biotechnology could become an
$8 to $10 billion part of Virginia's economy. Laboratory technicians
earn salaries ranging from $16,000 to $27,000 per year, and lab
specialists are in the $23,000 to $36,000 range.
City Council has taken the leadership role in workforce development
by approving grant support in the amount of $163,000 over the next
three years. The City's contributions will cover the training facility's
operational and start-up expenses including the lease, utilities,
building maintenance, custodial cost, renovation work, and classroom
and laboratory furniture. In addition, the City's Weed and Seed
Network will provide $14,100 for scholarships.
Office of the Vice President for Research and Public Service has
provided $50,000 to cover expenses for instruments and instructional
materials. The School of Medicine will donate $15,000 to cover the
cost of curriculum development and research internships.
Virginia Community College is contributing $50,000 for the lead
faculty, administrative support and operational management of the
program. Within the City there is a strong interest in supporting
both technology growth and upward mobility for area residents, so
this new workforce training program will address both community
and business needs. The development of this program is a result
of the dedication of members of City Council, the University of
Virginia (David Kalergis and David L. Brautigan), the Piedmont Virginia
Community College (Frank Friedman and Forrest Mckay), and the city
of Charlottesville Department of Economic Development (Aubrey V.
Watts, Jr. and William H. Harvey).
U.Va. Laboratory Specialists assisted in a job analysis using the
Work Keys instrument in May 1999. To begin the process of curriculum
development this summer and fall, Piedmont Virginia Community College
faculty member Patricia Franklin will also develop the curriculum
for classroom and clinical instruction. Franklin will also gain
hands-on experience by working as a paid intern in David Brautigan's
lab at U.Va., and will attend at least one biotechnology conference
this summer. The following are program goals to be met over the
next three years:
1 - 1999
Work Keys and curriculum development activities for Laboratory
Specialists associates-degree program.
benchmarking activities with reference to similar programs.
the program through the VCCS and state approval system.
Develop and begin to implement the marketing and student recruitment
Equip the designated facility for teaching and lab space.
Recruit and admit the initial group of program students.
2 - 2000
the program and enroll first group of students.
marketing and recruitment activities to identify and recruit regional
Work with prospective U.Va. and regional employers to initiate
plans for the hiring of program graduates.
3 - 2001
Begin linking activities between employers and students.
Graduate first class of students. The workforce development training
facility will be located on West Main Street and is scheduled
to begin classes for Laboratory Specialist in Sept. 1999. The
fall semester will be a pilot class of 20 students from surrounding
City neighborhoods and will accommodate both full-time and part-time
students. All sponsors are currently recruiting program participants
for the fall classes. Registration is currently underway and prospective
students can contact Forrest McKay at Piedmont Virginia Community
College, Department of Continuing Education at 961-5351.
Aubrey V. Watts, Jr. Phone: (804) 970-3110