Manufacturers are now actively participating in the development and training of skilled production workers they need to remain competitive. They are also engaging partners like community colleges, manufacturing organizations, training providers and government resources. The National Association of Manufacturers-endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System, and the NAM-affiliated Manufacturing Institute, training organization ACT Inc., the National Institute for Metalworking Skills and the president’s Jobs Council are all providing certification systems for qualified candidates. Manufacturers have also reintroduced the apprenticeship, which once had been commonplace among machine tool makers. MAG’s reinvigorated apprenticeship program mirrors some aspects of the training programs employed by large manufacturers such as Permac and ArcelorMittal. Troubleshooting issues with newly manufactured products is one critical skill that apprenticeship programs provide. “It is one thing to be able to assemble a product and apply the electrical and all the elements to the product, but it is another thing when you build a product and it doesn’t operate the way you want it to. To troubleshoot the product and understand why it is doing what it is doing, takes a lot of skill and experience”, says Bill Horwarth, president, MAG Global Services.
The Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) began providing skills standards in 2001, focusing on the major concentrations of manufacturing: Production; Quality Assurance; Logistics & Inventory Control; Maintenance, Installation and Repair; Health, Safety & Environment; and Product Process Development. It subsequently began credentialing in 2005, and endorsed the instructor certification program developed by the IN Labor Institute for Training and Amatrol in 2006. In 2009 MSSC launched a new, industry-led training and credentialing system for front-line material handling workers in supply chain logistics at the International Logistics Show organized by the Material Handling Industry Association. More recently, in 2012 ANSI announced its accreditation of MSSC’s certification programs under the Institute’s Accreditation Program for Personnel Certification Bodies. Accreditation by ANSI created a valuable distinction for MSSC’s credentialing programs.
The American Society of Quality (ASQ) is the leading authority on career-boosting certifications for quality professionals and provides a wide range of certifications for manufacturing quality staff. Finally, the Manufacturing Institute is working with manufacturing certification organizations who are the world market leaders in skills certification programs. This collaborative effort resulted in an organization of the certification programs, and the credentials they offer, into a system of “stackable credentials” that can be awarded in post-secondary education.