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Apprenticeship Partner Spotlight: The Wistar Institute

From left to right: James Chiarchiaro (Program Coordinator, Keystone Development Partnership), Mark Genua (Apprenticeship Program Director, Philadelphia Works), Anita Pepper, Ph.D. (Vice President of Institutional Advancement, The Wistar Institute), Jessica Appleton (Outreach and Education Program Analyst, The Wistar Institute), William Wunner, Ph.D. (Director of Academic Affairs, The Wistar Institute), Michael Schurr (Chairman, Pennsylvania Apprenticeship and Training Council), Joseph Welsh, Esq. (CRD Associates), Eric Ramsay (Director of the Apprenticeship and Training Office, Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry)

Photo Credit: The Wistar Institute

 The Wistar Institute is the nation’s first independent institution devoted to medical research and training.  The Wistar Institute has evolved from its beginnings as an anatomical teaching museum to its present-day status as an international leader in basic biomedical research.  In 1972, The Wistar Institute was designated a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center in basic research—a distinction it holds to this day.  Wistar discoveries have led to the development of vaccines for rabies, rubella, and rotavirus, the identification of genes associated with breast, lung, and prostate cancer, and the development of monoclonal antibodies and other significant research technologies and tools.

For the past 16 years, The Wistar Institute has provided students from Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) with advanced skills and hands-on training in the research laboratory for a career path to basic and applied biomedical and cancer research at The Wistar Institute and other prestigious biomedical and pharmaceutical laboratories in the region.  On May 11, 2017, The Wistar Institute accepted certification from the Council on Apprenticeship Standards for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry ratifying the first-ever nontraditional apprenticeship program for biomedical research.  The Wistar Institute’s Biomedical Research Technician (BRT) Training Apprenticeship is the first of its kind in the nation.  This apprenticeship offers apprentices a career pathway to becoming biomedical research technicians in a research laboratory environment.  Through advanced training they acquire skill sets to facilitate experimental procedures, manage a laboratory and monitor lab safety, conduct data analysis on experiments, and other highly-skilled techniques with the goal of supporting a lead scientist and staff in the laboratory to advance scientific hypotheses and outcomes.  This apprenticeship model successfully creates cross-boundary collaborations between industry, academia and research institutes, offers in-depth training and education while providing students a wage, and gives trainees the skillsets sought after by the life sciences industry.

The apprenticeship is an extension of The Wistar Institute’s Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program, created close to 20 years ago by William Wunner, Ph.D., as a partnership with the Community College of Philadelphia. Successful completion of the BTT program at The Wistar Institute is a pre-requisite of the apprenticeship program.

Source: The Wistar Institute.  Learn more here.

Past Partner Spotlights:

1199C Training & Upgrading Fund

Urban Technology Project pre-apprentices on the job

Photo Credit: Urban Technology Project

Apprentice Spotlight:  Tyrrell Minerva, Urban Technology Project

Q: What is your name, age and hometown?

A: Tyrrell Minerva, 21-years-old, Philadelphia

Q: What RA Program or Pre-apprenticeship program are you participating in? When did you start and when do you finish?

A: I am currently participating in a pre-apprenticeship program under the AmeriCorps Digital Service Fellow working specifically with the Urban Technology Project (UTP). I started October 5, 2015, and I will finish August 4, 2017.

Q: What were you doing before you were an apprentice or pre-apprentice?

A: I was working for a temporary staffing agency.

Q: What sparked your interest in applying for and eventually accepting a position as an apprentice or pre-apprentice?

A: What really sparked my interest was learning more valuable computer skills rather than just knowing basic-level fixes.

Q: What are you hoping to gain from this apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship program?

A: I am hoping to gain more valuable knowledge in the field of computers and technology as well as earning certifications.

Q: What has been the most valuable lesson learned so far while working through your apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship?

A: The most valuable lesson I have learned is you really have to dedicate your time in your studies and be a great worker even though it’s an apprenticeship. You have limited time to make a first impression and achieve your goals.

Q: What are you looking forward to most in the time remaining of your program?

A: I look forward to becoming certified in Apple products and then becoming certified in the CompTIA A+ certification.

Q: What do you feel are the advantages of an apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship program?

A: There are many advantages in the apprenticeship program. Every time you’re in the field, you’re always learning something new. If you happen to make a mistake, it’s used as a learning experience. This is a place where we can learn and make mistakes without the fear of being immediately fired. We also receive perks such as vouchers for certifications and transpasses for traveling from site to site.

Q: What do you hope to achieve after you complete this program?

A: After I complete this program, I hope to land a great job in the IT workforce. I also plan to develop my studies through different interests and projects.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to other potential apprentices or pre-apprentices who are thinking about starting on the same career pathway as you?

A: My advice is whatever you put into the program is what you get out. Don’t be afraid to take initiative on trying to make something happen. Turn your weaknesses into strengths so you can better yourself.

Q: Would you recommend apprenticeships or pre-apprenticeships to other people?

A: I would most definitely recommend it to people. It’s a good way to search for a career, especially one that would make you happy.

Q: What are your hobbies/how do you pass the time outside of your apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship?

A: My hobbies are playing video games, watching action movies, boxing, and working out to keep happy.

Q: If you could trade places with anyone in the history of the world, who would it be and why?

A: I would trade places with George Washington our first president. The reason for that is he had to run America with nothing to go off, just pure knowledge and creative ideas.

Q: Please share one fun fact about yourself!

A: I am a big fan of boxing. I love the sport. It’s great in so many ways and brings out the potential you thought you didn’t have.

Past Apprentice Spotlights:

Brittany Fowler: 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund

Southeast PA Region Apprenticeship Initiative: Pathways for Opportunity Youth in Information Technology and Behavioral Health Careers

The Southeast PA Regional Apprenticeship Initiative offers opportunity youth – those age 16 to 24 who are neither in-school nor working – the ability to train in two high-demand career fields through apprenticeships with area businesses. As a collaborative effort between five counties comprising the Southeast Pennsylvania (SEPA) Region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia), Philadelphia Works is the project leader for this effort, whose goals are to:

  1. Expand existing apprenticeships in high-growth industries to engage multiple employers.
  2. Build standardized, employer-validated pre-apprenticeship curricula that will be replicated across opportunity-youth-serving employment and training programs.
  3. Create an oversight structure to ensure opportunity-youth-serving systems alignment.

This $2.9 million grant creates a valuable talent pool for employers like Jarvus and Springboard Media, both of which were among the first employers to sign on to the program, as well as creating career pathways for up to 500 youth over the five year grant period, becoming trained for jobs in information technology as CSS and IT Specialists, and as Behavioral Health Technicians.

The curricula for pre-apprenticeship training has been standardized and validated by employers, ensuring that apprentices have the foundational skills needed when they enter the apprenticeship with a participating business. The curricula are publicly available and can by adopted by educational partners for career technical education, out of school youth, or TANF employment and training programs.

Learn more and get involved by calling 215-963-2100.  

Download Project Narrative

Congratulations to the following newly approved Registered Apprenticeship programs throughout South Eastern PA! 

*If you would like to download a complete listing of Registered Apprenticeships in the SEPA region, click here.  Please note – Although this list will be updated regularly, we cannot guarantee that all Registered Apprenticeships listed are active/accepting new apprentices at this time. 

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Questions about Registered Apprenticeship?

Mark Genua

Apprenticeship Program Director


Phone:  215.854.1988