Raimondo meets biotech leaders to plan Real Jobs RI program

THE WESTERLY EDUCATION Center received a $19,000 planning grant from the R.I. Department of Labor and Training in April. /COURTESY R.I. OFFICE OF THE POSTSECONDARY COMMISSIONER
THE WESTERLY EDUCATION Center received a $19,000 planning grant from the R.I. Department of Labor and Training in April. /COURTESY R.I. OFFICE OF THE POSTSECONDARY COMMISSIONER

WARWICK – Gov. Gina M. Raimondo met Thursday with representatives from Pfizer Inc., Toray Plastics (America) Inc., Amgen Inc. and others to discuss the plan for a program to train process technologists for the state’s biotechnology and manufacturing sectors.

The group of biotech companies was convened by the Westerly Education Center, which received a $19,000 planning grant from the R.I. Department of Labor and Training in April under Raimondo’s workforce training initiative, Real Jobs Rhode Island. Thursday’s meeting, held at the Community College of Rhode Island, served as an open forum for industry leaders to share their concerns and early ideas for developing a training program to address the demand for skilled workers in the biotech industry.

Process technologists fill an essential role in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and beverage, and environmental and mechanical testing industries, the DLT said in a release, and salaries in this highly skilled field can pay as much as $50,000 a year.

Joining Raimondo and biotech representatives at Thursday’s strategy meeting were Amy Grzybowski, executive director of the Westerly Education Center; Scott Jensen, director of the DLT; and Julian Alssid, vice president of workforce development for CCRI.

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DLT spokesperson Mike Healey said details regarding the biotech job-training program for process technologists will be decided in future meetings, referring to Thursday’s session as an “on switch” for biotech employers to start the process of designing a program tailored to their needs.

More than 700 job seekers in Rhode Island have been trained and placed in jobs through Real Jobs RI since 2016, Healey said, and more than 400 employed workers have received training to position them for higher-paying jobs in the insurance, construction, banking, health care, manufacturing, IT and other industries.

Kaylen Auer is a PBN reporter.