The need for trained technical expertise in the field of bioscience is acute, not only for the growing number of bioscience companies in Maryland, but also for research centers affiliated with universities. The Biotechnical Institute of Maryland, Inc. (BTI) was established in the fall of 1997 with a planning grant from the Abell Foundation. The BTI program model was designed to enable high school graduates to pursue entry-level positions in bioscience. The program was also developed to train low-skilled workers, who traditionally have had very little opportunity for career advancement, to enter the biotechnical field. BTI offers two programs: 1) the BTI Lab Associates Program consists of nine weeks of lectures and laboratory exercises, and a three-week internship with a biotech laboratory; and 2) the BioSTART program is a 12-week "bridge" program that introduces students to bioscience terminology, occupations and lab procedures, and that provides math remediation. Once students complete BioSTART, they enroll in the Lab Associates program.
Since 1998, BTI has trained 320 laboratory technicians, with 75 percent being placed in laboratory and manufacturing technician positions at an average wage of $12.00/hour. Over 30 organizations in the Greater Baltimore area employ BTI graduates; the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions employ 25 percent of BTI's graduates. Research indicates that graduates remain employed, earning an average of $25,000. The average cost per placement is relatively high, approaching $10,000.