US (NC): training students for growing jobs in plant science

A new training program at Durham Technical Community College will prepare students for good-paying entry-level jobs in North Carolina’s growing agricultural biotechnology industry beginning this fall.

Students can get BioAg PRO training in commercial greenhouses.
“This new training opportunity builds on Durham Tech’s 17-year track record of preparing students for biomanufacturing jobs,” said Ingrid Charles, director of the college’s BioWork/Biopharma training program. “It will give students a rolling start on good career opportunities in a growing industry important to North Carolina’s economy.”

The program, called the Bio-Agricultural Program Readiness Opportunity (BioAg PRO), will train about 40 students in plant science over its first two years, beginning with the first 10 students in September.

BioAg PRO is being developed by a partnership of Global Agricultural Development Corp., Durham Tech and North Carolina State University. It is supported by a $500,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides leadership and funding for programs that advance agriculture-related sciences.

“This opportunity will benefit interested students, regional employers and our local communities,” said John Salmeron, Ph.D., program director for BioAg PRO and an advisor to Global Agricultural Development Corp., an industry consulting firm in Cary.

With more than 200 agricultural technology companies operating in the state, North Carolina is an international hotbed for plant science. Jobs in plant ag biotech are predicted to grow faster than in most fields, and the demand for qualified entry-level employees is particularly strong.

Agriculture is the state’s largest industry with an annual economic impact of about $96 billion across food, fiber and forestry production. Nearly 800,000 North Carolinians work in agriculture and agribusiness, accounting for about 17% of the state’s jobs.

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