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Blog | 3 min read

State grant to develop life sciences workforce

August 14, 2023

Life Sciences employees

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin recently announced the allocation of more than $2.9 million to eight different projects to foster talent development, stimulate economic acceleration and drive regional industry growth. The Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) grants will improve industrial sites and connect talent with employment opportunities to remove barriers to entrepreneurship and enhance the vitality of targeted sectors in Virginia.

Locally, Reynolds Community College was awarded a $253,000 grant as part of the Advancing a Regional Skilled Ecosystem (ARISE) for Life Sciences initiative in Richmond, Va. This funding aims to support the workforce needs of the growing pharmaceutical manufacturing industry cluster in the region. Reynolds plans to establish a fully equipped, state-of-the-art learning laboratory, alongside the development of a specialized curriculum at their Downtown Campus adjacent to the VA Bio+Tech Park.

This grant is just one example of partnerships and resources that boost the local Life Sciences industry in Greater Richmond. Here’s how this grant will strengthen the region’s Life Sciences workforce:

  • Addresses workforce needs. The pharmaceutical manufacturing industry has seen significant growth in the region, creating a high demand for a skilled workforce. The ARISE project hopes to bridge this gap by providing students with the necessary training and skills required to excel in the industry. The learning laboratory at the Downtown Campus will offer hands-on experience and practical knowledge, preparing students for real-world challenges in the field of laboratory technology.
  • Creates a pathway to high-paying jobs. One of the key outcomes of the ARISE project is the development of a new laboratory technician major within the associate degree pathway. This major will equip students with specialized knowledge and skills that align with the needs of pharma manufacturing. By offering a comprehensive curriculum that encompasses theoretical learning and practical training, Reynolds aims to ensure graduates are well-prepared to pursue high-paying careers in the Life Sciences sector.
  • Data predicts industry needs. The ARISE project at Reynolds was developed using a data-driven approach by analyzing industry trends, workforce demands and growth projections. This allowed the college to design a project that directly addresses the region’s specific needs. Moreover, the project has actively involved industry and community leaders, ensuring the curriculum and learning laboratory are aligned with the expectations and requirements of employers in the Life Sciences industry. This collaboration enhances the relevance and effectiveness of the educational programs offered by Reynolds and Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA).
  • Promotes economic growth and opportunity. The ARISE project not only addresses the immediate workforce needs of the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry but contributes to the overall economic growth of the region. The project supports the expansion of the Life Sciences sector in Greater Richmond by equipping students with the skills and knowledge required by employers. This stimulates job creation for individuals seeking the opportunity to secure well-paying positions in a thriving industry.

Around the region

Many Life Sciences companies choose Greater Richmond thanks to the growing business hub in the bioscience, advanced pharma and medical device service industries. With 5,800 individuals employed in Life Sciences, employers in the region have access to a skilled workforce to continue building upon.

The region’s Life Sciences industry includes Haleon, Wako Chemicals, Commonwealth Biotechnologies and Thermo Fisher Scientific. These companies offer an abundance of information, products and services to meet consumer demand.

Click here to learn why Life Sciences companies such as these choose to operate in the region.