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Article: Biotech funds head to Ohlone College expected to be a main training provider - Biotechnology in the News

Biotech funds head to Ohlone College expected to be a main training provider

[See also WIB Biotechnology Grant from the ETA.]

Barry Shatzman, Correspondent.

Reprinted from The Argus - Tuesday, June 8, 2004.

SAN FRANCISCO - Ohlone College is expected to be one of the big beneficiaries of a $2 million biotechnology training grant announced Monday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The grant was awarded to the Alameda and San Mateo county workforce investment boards to train displaced Bay Area workers from the airline, aerospace and information technology sectors for entry-level positions in the growing biotech field.

Ohlone and Skyline College in San Bruno are expected to be the prime providers of training, according to Department of Labor officials.

Dorothy Chen, director of the Alameda County organization, said Ohlone and Skyline are partners in the grant and will be included in the discussions on how to best spend the money.

Biotech industry partners in the grant include Abgenix, Alza, Genentech and Chiron.

Both Ohlone and Skyline have performed similar training recently under the San Mateo organization, with money from a $940,000 grant from the California Employment Development Department.

According to Ron Quinta, executive dean of math, science, technology and program development at Ohlone, all 22 students who completed the training program have received interviews with biotech companies. Some already have job offers.

Ohlone also boasts a recently built, state-of-the-art biotech lab, which, according to Quinta, was designed to replicate commercial research labs.

"In terms of biotech, this almost puts us at the postgraduate level," said Quinta.

Ohlone President Doug Treadway said he has had no direct involvement with the grant, but "I think that, as our program expands, we're a good candidate to work with the federal government on a larger scale."

The grant is part of President Bush's High Growth Job Training Initiative, which provides $15 billion annually in training to the American workforce.

According to Emily Stover DeRocco, assistant secretary of the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, most of that money is distributed directly to the states, with only $70 million remaining at the federal level for pilot programs such as the one announced Monday.

"They have to be very important pilots," she said.

DeRocco said these programs will be used as a model for the rest of the nation as part of the Labor Department's "Model for Success" program.

"The important thing is the role of community colleges. They're the linchpin to ensuring workers are employable," she said.