ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 15, 2011 — President Obama last week announced an initiative to credential 500,000 manufacturing workers with industry-recognized certifications through an expansion of Skills for America’s Future. He stated that this would be implemented through a close partnership between industry, education and the National Association of Manufacturers.
As one of the Founding Members of the national Manufacturing Skills Certification System endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council’s (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) credential will be an essential tool in the effort to meet this goal.
“We are pleased to see this joint action from industry, education and the public sector to grow a skilled manufacturing workforce within the framework of a robust nationwide program with macro-economic impact,” said Leo Reddy, MSSC CEO. “The manufacturing jobs of the 21st century continue to become more technical and require a higher level of skill among front-line production workers. Based on MSSC’s industry-defined, nationally validated standards, the CPT program addresses this demand by certifying these workers in the core technical competencies of high performance manufacturing common to all manufacturing sectors.”
While the manufacturing sector has faced real challenges in recent years, it continues to be the lifeblood of the American economy. The manufacturing sector currently employs over 11 million Americans, and by itself it would be one of the 10th largest economies in the world. Manufacturing is also critical for continued innovation; manufacturing companies account for two-thirds of private sector research and development and roughly 90% of all registered patents. Most importantly, manufacturing has long provided good-paying jobs for millions of families and serves as the anchor employer in communities across America. For that reason, the ability to win the future will depend in large part on the ability to train the most productive manufacturing workers in the world.
One of the challenges in today’s manufacturing sector is the lack of a standardized credentialing system that manufacturing firms recognize as useful preparation for their unfilled jobs. As a result, students often spend time and money on training that can have little value to potential employers while employers have difficulty identifying which credentials are of value and should influence hiring and promotions. An additional challenge faced by manufacturers is that Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age. An estimated 2.7 million manufacturing employees are 55 years of age or older and are likely to leave the labor force in the next 10 years.
“The CPT credential addresses the needs of both the worker and the employer by providing the individual with a nationally portable, industry-recognized credential and reducing recruiting and on-the-job training costs of employers,” said Reddy. “This is often a first step into manufacturing and launches workers into an educational and vocational pathway supported by the other NAM partners.”
The Manufacturing Skills Certification System, developed by NAM’s Manufacturing Institute, gives students the opportunity to earn manufacturing credentials that travel across state lines, are valued by a range of employers and improve earning power. The founding partners of this system include MSSC, ACT, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the American Welding Society and the National Institute of Metalworking Skills. This allows students and workers to access these manufacturing credentials and pathways in community colleges in 30 states as a for-credit program of study.