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Building Work-Based Learning and Employment Opportunities

To overcome internal biases held major firms, which often limit their internship programs to four-year students, the LAEDC team has been using a skills and competency matching approach to reveal how community college students are taught the requisite skills that match the competency requirements for the internships. LAEDC identified the relevant programs at the community colleges that teach the competencies sought by employers within several industries such as bioscience. The team held in-depth discussions with discrete firms, challenging their historical view of the relevancy and proficiency of a community college education and have been successful securing buy-in from firms and open internships to community college students.

The team also used a “diversity and inclusion” approach to appeal to companies’ corporate social responsibility. After several discussion and meetings, several companies agreed to move forward with community college partnerships for work-based learning.

A prime example of a company continuing to invest and partner with the community colleges is Takeda, a patient-focused, values-based, R&D-driven global biopharmaceutical company which employs about 1,000 people in LA County. After opening up their internships to community colleges and prioritizing referrals from LAEDC, CCW coordinated a student and faculty tour at Takeda in November 2019, focusing in three occupational category areas: maintenance; manufacturing; and biology and chemistry laboratory. CCW levered its partnership with Terri Quenzer, CA Community Colleges’ Statewide Director of Employer Engagement for Life Sciences/Biotech, and Wendi Johnston, who leads the Regional Biotech Collaborative, to encourage faculty and students to attend.

From the tour, the 31 students and 13 faculty across nine community colleges gained a better understanding of Takeda’s opportunities for graduating students and learned about Takeda’s workforce needs around technical competencies, soft skills, innovation, technology and training. Faculty had a deep dialogue with over 10 Takeda department managers on how to improve curriculum and create a talent pipeline from our region’s community colleges into Takeda.

Abbas Yar-Khan, VP of Manufacturing, Takeda

In October 2020, CCW hosted Takeda’s Abbas Yar-Khan, VP of Manufacturing as part of the Bioscience State of the Industry event, to hear an update about Takeda and its evolving workforce needs.  Yar-Khan said that Takeda also has about 1,000 employees locally, with 1,800 in California.  He said Takeda has a variety of employees, a large percentage with high school diploma, some with a science degree required for other jobs, and some Ph.Ds which serve in science roles.  Takeda has been successful working with community colleges like LA Valley College, LA Mission College, Pasadena City College to help shape their programs and find talent.



Feedback from the 2019 Takeda facility tour:

“I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the amazing opportunity of touring Takeda. It was such a pleasure and a great experience. Thank you so much!”  – ODET ALFARO, Chief of Staff of the Water System, L.A. Department of Water and Power

“I want to thank you so much for the amazing opportunity CCW arranged for Community Colleges to
build meaningful and productive partnerships with Takeda! It was incredible to have all of the senior
management in the room and highly engaged, having the awareness that they have the opportunity to
shape the training to help build their own custom workforce!” – TERRI QUENZER, Statewide Director for Life Sciences/Biotech Workforce and Economic Development,
California Community Colleges


  • If you’re interested in expanding your work-based learning programs, either as a business leader seeking this kind of talent pipeline relationship, or a faculty member, please contact Claire Anderson at LAEDC who will help you get connected.
  • If you are a reporter looking for more sources to cover this great example of industry-education alignment, please contact Lawren Markle.