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Wallace State Community College Campus
Three days before Dr. Lane’s trip to Wallace State Community College (WSCC), the Coalition of State Bioscience Institutes released the 2021 Life Sciences Workforce Trends Report.
Figure after figure, the report reinforces the essential role of two-year colleges in training the life science workforce. More than 50% of entry-level life science jobs require middle- and low-skill training (defined by the study as less than a bachelor’s degree) (Figure 1), and 25% of all life-science job postings – regardless of level – specify the need for an associate degree or less (Figure 2).
“Medical technician” (Figure 3), a position with multiple entry points supported by community college education, was the technical life science job in highest demand from 2017-2020.
WSCC’s contribution to training and diversifying AL’s life science workforce is obvious, graduating >50 medical technicians and training numerous agriculture professionals each year, as well as creating onramps for underserved populations (evidenced by their recent NSF award to train women and adult learners in the diesel industry). In 2022, WSCC will be rolling out a business incubator, equipped with 8 pods capable of supporting light manufacturing operations. This combination of essential training with entrepreneurial support encourages application-centered innovation.
WSCC medical laboratory technician students in training and a WSCC greenhouse
Travis Kress – who manages his own family farm in Cullman – also runs the Small Farmer Training Program at WSCC. He explained that the average Alabama farmer is nearing 60 years of age, and our state also has more new ag producers than the national average. Dr. Lane speculates that the next generation of farmers may usher in a new mentality toward technology and farming that could make Alabama an especially welcoming state for agbio innovators to call home.
WSCC’s commitment to workforce diversity and innovation is a key partner in Alabama’s future. Special thanks to Suzanne Harbin, Wesley Rakestraw, Travis Kress, Kristi Barnett, and Beth Williams for sharing this time and insight with Dr. Lane during her visit.
100 Drake Dr., Unit 688Normal, AL 35762
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