BC building talent pool to support life sciences, biomanufacturing

More people will soon have access to hands-on training in a new state-of-the-art training centre to help them get skills for jobs in life sciences and biomanufacturing, supporting companies to help address some of the world’s most pressing health-care challenges.

The Government of BC and PacifiCan are making a combined investment of $7.2 million to create a new BC National Biomanufacturing Training Centre (NBTC) at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), which will support companies addressing some of the world’s most pressing health-care challenges.

“BC is home to Canada’s fastest-growing life-sciences sector, which will need hundreds and eventually thousands of new, highly skilled employees to continue expanding,” said Brenda Bailey, BC’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation. “Establishing the training centre here in BC is part of our StrongerBC Future Ready commitment. It will help us address the current skills shortage, purposefully prepare for the future and boost BC’s businesses and competitiveness.”

The new NBTC will be the first of its kind in BC and will help build a local talent pool to meet the needs of growing life sciences and biomanufacturing businesses. By 2026, the NBTC is expected to provide training for more than 700 people annually, further positioning the province as a world leader in life sciences with highly skilled workers.

The Province is investing $2 million for the NBTC, while the Government of Canada, through PacifiCan, is providing $5.2 million. BCIT will partner with the Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL) to deliver industry-informed biopharmaceutical manufacturing training at the NBTC.

“British Columbia is globally renowned as a leader in several life-science fields, including antibodies and vaccine research and development,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, federal Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan). “Today’s funding will help train the next generation of skilled workers to meet the growing need for talent and further strengthen our economy.”

The new NBTC will bring together academia, government and industry partners (known as the triple-helix model) to offer professional, hands-on biomanufacturing training that is aligned with industry needs. It will be part of a national network of training facilities and will operate at BCIT in partnership with CASTL to deliver hands-on and theoretical training in biopharmaceutical manufacturing from a globally recognized curriculum.

NBTC will help those companies that are already on a path to opening thousands of good-paying jobs in British Columbia. The training centre is expected to be open in spring 2024. The first program will be delivered later that summer.

“We are pleased to see this investment by the governments of Canada and British Columbia to establish the National Biomanufacturing Training Centre at BCIT,” said Murray McCutcheon, senior vice-president of partnering, AbCellera. “We believe initiatives like the NBTC will be an integral part of building the highly skilled workforce needed to fill future jobs in biomanufacturing and advance Canada’s capabilities to make medicines.”

At the NBTC, students and trainees will receive on-site hands-on and theoretical training in classrooms and mocked-up clean room environments equipped with state-of-the-art pilot-scale bioprocessing equipment. Led by experienced industry trainers, the courses will cover topics from contamination control and quality assurance to upstream and downstream bioprocessing. These will be suitable for operators through to senior management, as well as post-secondary students, who will gain practical skills that can be immediately taken into the workplace.

The NBTC is the first key action in the coming BC. Life Sciences and Biomanufacturing Strategy, which will position BC as a global hub for life sciences and biomanufacturing by nurturing new talent, developing new lab space, leveraging the research capacities of BC’s post-secondary sector, and supporting employment across the sector. The StrongerBC Economic Plan moves British Columbia forward by tackling the challenges of today while growing an economy that works for everyone.


Penny Walsh-McGuire, Executive Director, CASTL –

“CASTL is excited to work with BCIT and others to help build a talent engine to power British Columbia’s growing biomanufacturing sector. The launch of this new facility will provide industry employees and post-secondary students with access to theoretical and hands-on training from a globally recognized curriculum. We appreciate the support of the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia, as well as our network of industry and academic partners.”

Paul McCullough, Interim President, BCIT –

“This National Biomanufacturing Training Centre is a natural extension of BCIT’s expertise in workforce development to support Canada’s life-sciences sector. With funding support from the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada, we are excited to move forward in collaboration with the Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences to develop a state-of-the-art facility and suite of programs to respond to industry need. British Columbia has long been recognized as a leader in biosciences and today marks another important milestone in creating a home for biomanufacturing workforce development and offering a portfolio of programs to support the growth of this sector.”

Wendy Hurlburt, President and CEO, Life Sciences BC –

“The National Biomanufacturing Training Centre will play a key role in ensuring the growth of BC’s life-sciences sector. These exciting strategic investments by the Province of BC and Government of Canada will be significant in attracting and developing skilled talent for BC’s growing biomanufacturing sector. This will secure high-paying, long-term job opportunities in the province and build on BC’s and Canada’s competitive advantage as a centre of world-class talent in life sciences.”

Quick Facts:

  • It is estimated that by 2029 Canada will need more than 16,000 employees in biomanufacturing, including more than 3,400 bio-health workers in Metro Vancouver alone.
  • Construction of the NBTC is expected to be completed in December 2023, with delivery of training in January
  • Professional, scientific and technical services is the second-largest category of job openings in the 2022 edition of the Labour Market
  • CASTL is the exclusive Canadian provider of the globally recognized National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training licensed training

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