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Reigniting Workforce Development Amidst the Pandemic

Wistar’s accelerated BTT Program means students can move into apprenticeships sooner to gain full time jobs.

The pandemic put the brakes on daily life, but didn’t stop scientific and educational progress at Wistar. With crucial funding from GSK through their STEM Equity Grant, the Institute can now fast-track Community College of Philadelphia pre-apprentices training in the Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program on to their next career phase as apprentices. 

BTT students in biomedical research labs at Wistar and biotech and pharmaceutical partners have received hands-on training reinforced with coursework in the classroom. But now, instead of completing the pre-apprenticeship over two summers, they can finish the program in just one. 

Through the accelerated BTT Program, students will be able to enter the Biomedical Research Technician (BRT) Apprenticeship faster and with a strong foundation in biomedical research skills that they can build upon during their apprenticeship. 

“With this support, we can continue to develop this program to the growing needs of our students and the life science sector, keeping the economic climate in mind,” said Kristy Shuda McGuire, Ph.D., Wistar associate dean of biomedical studies. “Through the BTT Program, students can do more than imagine a career in the life sciences. They can springboard into a laboratory position, where they can learn while they earn and contribute to important biomedical research.” 

Additional funding from a Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry PAsmart Grant is providing support to further expand and enhance the program, building on its 20 years of success training non-traditional students.

“Since 2000, Wistar has prepared trainees for jobs as laboratory technicians, research assistants, and beyond,” said William Wunner, Ph.D., Wistar director of outreach education, technology training and academic affairs. 

Dario Altieri, M.D., Wistar president and CEO, added, “The BTT Program has been a catalyst for new collaborative educational programs. It has showed us — as much as the students — how critical it is to engage in training and career development with the support of outstanding mentors. This, more than anything, is important to Wistar and our mission to prepare the next generation of scientists.”