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CCC&TI’s First Biopharmaceutical Technology Apprentice Signs with Exela

Published: 8/26/2021

Taylor Ray Hood is a little over a year out of high school, but already has a great start on a future career in the pharmaceutical industry.

Hood is working toward a Biopharmaceutical Technology associate degree at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute and recently became the first student to land a job in the biopharmaceutical industry through CCC&TI’s new Apprenticeship Caldwell program. Hood, a 2020 graduate of West Caldwell High School, started his job at Exela Pharma Sciences in Lenoir on Aug. 16 and began his college classes at CCC&TI the same week.

CCC&TI’s Apprenticeship Caldwell program combines classroom instruction and on-the-job training to prepare students for an industry. Students are paid for their work and their wages will increase as they progress in the program. Upon graduation, apprentices will receive a Certificate of Completion and will have earned the highly skilled “journey worker” designation.

“This is a great example of the community college responding to the needs of the community,” CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch said of the newly announced agreement with Exela Pharma Sciences. “It’s a true example of partnerships and what we can do together with our business partners.”

Taylor Ray Hood signing Apprenticeship aggreement

Taylor Ray Hood, center, signs his Apprenticeship Caldwell agreement with Exela Pharma Sciences. He was joined at the signing by his mother, Agnes Hood, left, and Exela Pharma Sciences Human Resources Director Beni Kincaid, right.

On Tuesday, Aug. 24, CCC&TI hosted a signing ceremony on campus, making Hood’s participation in the program official. In attendance were leaders from the North Carolina Community College System, ApprenticeNC, Exela Pharma Sciences and Hood’s mother, Agnes Hood.

The term of the apprenticeship is 1.5 years, which will include more than 3,000 hours of on-the-job training. Hood said he has always had an interest in science and he’s enjoying his biopharma studies and new job at Exela.

CCC&TI is only the second community college in the state to offer an Associate in Applied Sciences degree in Biopharmaceutical Technology, and the only one that offers it west of Raleigh. The program was added in 2020 in response to the growing pharmaceutical industry in Caldwell County and its need for workers. Work is nearly complete on a Biopharmaceutical Technology lab space on campus, which will include a working clean room and simulated manufacturing environment.

“We’re excited to be able to offer a pharmaceutical program to meet the needs of our business community,” Poarch said at the signing ceremony. “We’re excited to be able to provide the next generation of workforce for (the pharmaceutical industry) and give students the opportunity to learn in a state-of-the-art facility.”

Apprenticeship Caldwell launched in 2021 and provides a variety of on-the-job training opportunities for high school and college students. Among the apprenticeship career opportunities that are available are: automotive technology, biopharmaceutical technology, industrial maintenance, construction trades and welding.

For more information about Apprenticeship Caldwell, please contact Rick Shew at 828-759-4635 or rshew@cccti.edu.

Group Attending the Apprenticeship signing

Taylor Ray Hood, front, center, signed his Apprenticeship Caldwell agreement with Exela Pharma Sciences during a ceremony on Tuesday, Aug. 24 at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute. Also pictured: (front row) his mother, Agnes Hood, left, and Exela Pharma Sciences Human Resources Director Beni Kincaid, right; (back row from left to right) CCC&TI Dean of Career and Technical Education Keegan Anderson, CCC&TI Vice President of Academics Randy Ledford, NC Community Colleges Vice President of Economic Development Bruce Mack, CCC&TI President Mark Poarch, Apprenticeship Regional Coordinator Shelby McClain, NC Community Colleges Regional Apprenticeship Consultant Charlie Milling, CCC&TI Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development Brandy Dunlap and CCC&TI Workforce Development Director Rick Shew.