Today's Manufacturing Jobs Require Certification

Aug 22, 2012

Tom Grasson, Associate Publisher/Editorial Director

Guest Columnist:
Tom J. Grasson, Associate Publisher/Editorial Director, Aerospace Manufacturing and Design, Today’s Medical Developments, Today’s Energy Solutions, American Manufacturing

Attending IMTS provides tremendous insights into the changing world of technology. Every 2 years, we witness further advancements in machinery, tooling, software, and metrology that just 2 years earlier, we would have thought impossible. While it is obvious that these technology advancements are making us more competitive in the marketplace, reality is also setting in. “The old jobs that we once knew are not coming back. We need to invest in education and training to get people prepared to fill the new high-skilled, high-wage jobs of the future,” says Eric Spiegel, president and CEO, Siemens Corp.

Today, we have approximately 600,000 manufacturing jobs going unfilled. The inability to fill these jobs suggests that part of the unemployment situation confronting the nation could be more of a structural problem rather than a downturn in the business cycle. Aware of the situation, AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology is working to develop a smartforce by partnering with the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC), which includes more than 160 of the nation’s leading community colleges, Project Lead The Way Schools, and the nation’s top 4-year degreed colleges and universities. In addition, AMT is helping to jumpstart internship programs by modeling successful programs that are still in place, newly created, or working well. For shop floor employees, MTUniversity allows AMT to deliver job assessments and online classes for its members. To assure that shop floor employees are qualified upon hire, AMT is also working closely with the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) to assure that young people have the knowledge and credentials to get to work as soon as possible.

Also involved in rectifying the situation, the Manufacturing Institute and its partners announced significant progress toward achieving a 5-year goal of awarding 500,000 industry-based certifications to individuals seeking employment in the manufacturing sector. During the past year, the certification partners, working with the Manufacturing Institute, have issued 84,738 certifications to students and incumbent workers, covering in-demand, portable skill sets necessary across multiple manufacturing sectors.

“We are partnering with world-class industry certification bodies and community colleges, because they can and are delivering the in-demand skills for today’s innovation and productivity-driven workplaces,” says Jennifer McNelly, President, Manufacturing Institute.

Recognizing that men and women serving in the military receive exceptional training and develop strong skill sets, many of which are directly related to manufacturing, the Manufacturing Institute also works with several branches of the military to connect transitioning service-members to the numerous open manufacturing jobs in the United States. Through a partnership between the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC), each service branch will conduct a pilot for a limited number of service members to achieve industry-recognized credentials that will support a transition from military service to frontline jobs in the growing fields of advanced manufacturing and logistics. Service members participating in the pilot program will have an opportunity to earn these credentials free of charge. The military branches will partner with MSSC to explore how opportunities for these credentials can integrate into the military’s existing training programs as well as expand to the larger pool of service members with relevant skills and training.

Furthermore, through a partnership between the U.S. Army, American Welding Society (AWS), and NIMS, the Army Ordnance School will have accreditation to provide unlimited certification testing for soldiers with certain machinist and welding skills.

“Manufacturers have long supported the Manufacturing Skills Certification System because it offers results which lead to more productivity and innovation,” says Jay Timmons, president, National Association of Manufacturers NAM.

On a final note, the Manufacturing Institute deserves a standing ovation for addressing the negative stereotypes of manufacturing and the shrinking workforce pipeline with a cutting edge national manufacturing careers recruitment strategy, Dream It. Do It. Taking more than 9 years to develop, Dream It. Do It. uses targeted core messaging, social media, and innovative engagement strategies to inform students, parents, counselors, and educators about valuable opportunities in manufacturing. The program provides a clear understanding of advanced, high-tech manufacturing and its contribution to innovation, productivity, economic growth, wealth building, and high-quality jobs. It also promotes a modern image of manufacturing that expels old manufacturing stereotypes.

Dream It. Do It. is now active in more than 20 sites across the nation where industry and education-led coalitions are promoting manufacturing careers awareness and aligning education and training opportunities to meet the workforce needs of regional manufacturers. The network continues to expand as manufacturers and regions recognize the value of the program in portraying the image of modern manufacturing, and linking high-quality individuals to manufacturing careers.