Late last year, we talked to Phil Brooks, the director of STEM workforce development at the University City Science Center, about his newly established role in creating a program for West Philadelphians.
Funded by a Lenfest Foundation grant, Brooks’ primary goal is to connect local residents to “life-sustaining” jobs that have long-term possibility, a high pay rate, benefits and opportunity for growth. And this week, applications for the first cohort of BULB: Building an Understanding of Lab Basics, a two-week, free virtual lab skills training program, opened up.
The program was built with insight from top STEM industry leaders about what skills and positions they’re currently looking for, Brooks said. The virtual training will allow participants to gain those skills currently sought after by local science and tech employers.
“It took some time to assess the workforce needs of local companies but we have a program we are confident will support with the building of specific skills desired in a lab environment,” Brooks told Technical.ly in an email.
The first cohort will be 12 students, he said, and it welcomes a variety of backgrounds. Interested applicants must be Philadelphia residents at least 18 years old, with a high school diploma or GED, an interest in STEM, with access to a computer and internet, and knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
The 12 students chosen for the program will receive a stipend, a lab kit from eCLOSE for hands-on training, a STEM professional mentor that will help connect to employers that are hiring and access to the LabXchange platform beyond the program.
The program aims to arm residents with the skills employers are currently looking for, and give students connections to people in STEM. Graduates will learn basic lab safety, microscopy, gel electrophoresis and DNA/RNA isolation, Brooks said — a small subset of skills employers of local companies said they were looking for right now.
BULB will run for two weeks, starting July 6, and interested parties have until June 29 at noon to apply for the program.
“We want to get the message across that you do not have to be a scientist, tech genius or have a four-year degree to work at a science or tech company or organization,” Brooks said.