Here’s How Catalent is Committing to Workforce Development in Baltimore

By Alex Keown
May 16, 2023

The cell and gene therapy space is a rapidly moving therapeutic paradigm that relies on not only on scientific discovery but also precision manufacturing. To ensure that its cell and gene therapy clients receive the highest standards in manufacturing, life sciences giant Catalent is developing a training program that will provide employees with the necessary skills to stay ahead of this rapidly evolving space.

Whether new employees are fresh out of school or making a lateral transition from another company, Catalent has developed a complete training curriculum that not only provides employees with competence, but also the confidence in the job they are performing. In support of that emphasis on training, Catalent Cell & Gene Therapy will open a stand-alone training institute at its Baltimore campus. Among the many training opportunities available to employees, the training institute will provide hands-on real-world simulation programs for its manufacturing employees.

Catalent is currently hiring for a number of positions in Baltimore and Maryland. A full list of available positions can be found at Catalent’s career portal.

The new 25,000 square-foot training space is expected to come online in the third quarter of 2023. Employees who come through the new facility will be immersed in a comprehensive training program designed to provide them with the necessary skills and confidence to hit the ground running in their new biomanufacturing roles.

“We want our employees to have the competencies to run the machinery without missing a beat,” Cassie Wells, Director of Human Resources, Cell & Gene Therapy at Catalent told BioBuzz.

A business of Catalent, Catalent Cell & Gene Therapy is a technology, development, and manufacturing partner for advanced therapeutics. The organization has broad cell therapy capabilities across a variety of cell types, including CAR-T, TCR, TILs, NKs, iPSCs, and MSCs. Providing deep expertise in viral vector development, scale-up and manufacturing for gene therapies and viral vaccines, Catalent is recognized as a full-service partner for companies developing plasmid DNA, adeno-associated viral (AAV), lentiviral and other viral vectors, and oncolytic viruses.

The new employees, regardless if they are line workers or in management, will undergo the same training that not only hones the necessary skills for the job but also foments a culture of positive growth.

Hiring for the future

The new training institute simulates the look and feel of what the employees will walk into when they go onto the floor. Nicknamed “the movie set,” Wells said the training facility has the look and feel of a Catalent manufacturing facility, just on a smaller scale.

For four weeks, the new glassed-in training center will become the home of new employees as they undergo comprehensive training programs. When the training site is up and running, Wells said there will be enough space for about 75 new hires to go through training at one time.

“We anticipate that all new hires, including if they’re hired at a leadership level, will come through the center,” Wells said.

This provides each employee, no matter their level within the company, a common experience that will forge something of a bond between them. Wells said that bond is important, not only because it will provide cohesion among the workforce but it also underlines the company’s culture.

Beyond the hands-on manufacturing training planned for the new Baltimore training space, Wells said company plans for the site include leadership training. Wells noted the space is primarily aimed at hand-on manufacturing training but it was designed with an “all-purpose training in mind.”

“We have classrooms that will offer limitless learning,” Wells said. “We are putting the human back in human resources. At Catalent, we are creating a culture where our employees know that we are spending time to invest in them. If we don’t have our employees, we don’t have an organization.”

Catalent is currently hiring for numerous positions at this new site, including the following:

Emphasis on DEI

Beyond providing the hands-on skills necessary for the manufacturing of cell and gene therapy products, the company also provides its employees with the necessary stills to operate within a highly diverse organization such as Catalent. This emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion is a cornerstone of the company’s culture.

Kamia Taylor, Vice President, Global Program Management, BioModalities, points out that Catalent’s training will also focus on intangible skills that support Catalent’s culture. This includes training to recognize biases people have developed without ever realizing. The training is designed to “disrupt the unconscious bias” that all people harbor. These biases can lead to exclusionary behaviors – such as micro-aggressions – without individuals even realizing, she said.

“Unconscious bias training is about really knowing who you are. We’re intentionally encouraging this self-self-awareness which we believe will help support our inclusive workplace, and that’s important to our future. Catalent really gets that,” she said.

Understanding unconscious bias is one way that Catalent is working to build a more inclusive and diverse workforce, Taylor said. That provides added strength to a company in many ways, including showing employees from marginalized backgrounds that there are multiple career opportunities at Catalent.  It also fuels innovation and cultivates a sense of belonging among all team members, which helps Catalent retain Talent.

It’s important our leadership team is reflective of our employee base. When you’re hired, you need to see a path forward for yourself, and that’s much easier when someone who looks like you has gone down that pathway,” Taylor said.

Because of Catalent’s emphasis on diversity and inclusivity, Taylor noted that Catalent’s workforce is both celebrated and supported. It lays the groundwork for a promising future of employment.

Plans for the training facility began about a year and a half ago. Wells explained that Catalent wanted to support its investment in employees and their future through comprehensive, hands-on training. Not only does the training program provide employees with the confidence in the position they were hired for, it also demonstrates multiple career pathways available to them.

“People have a choice in where they can be employed. If they don’t see companies investing in them, they can easily go elsewhere,” she said.

The majority of Catalent employees tapped to serve on the training team will come from the company’s Maryland facilities. Wells said the trainers “know the ins and outs” of manufacturing operations. That industry knowledge will be combined with the trainers’ life experiences, which will ultimately streamline the training process.

“This is an opportunity to make things better for Catalent and drive things the way we want to,” Wells said.