On Wednesday June 8th, President Obama announced a major expansion of Skills for America’s Future, an industry led initiative to dramatically improve industry partnerships with community colleges and build a nation-wide network to maximize workforce development strategies, job training programs, and job placements. Included in the expansion was an emphasis on skills certification. An important aspect of this expansion is the Manufacturing Skills Certification System, developed with manufacturing firms at the table, that will give students the opportunity to earn manufacturing credentials that will be valued by a range of employers and improve earning power. This will allow students and workers to access this manufacturing credentials and pathways in community colleges in 30 states as a for-credit program of study. (This program was designed by the Manufacturing Institute, an affiliated non-profit of the National Association of Manufacturers, in partnership with leading manufacturing firms, the Gates Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation, and key players in education and training including ACT, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the American Welding Society, the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, and the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council.)
As part of this effort, the Manufacturing Extension Program will serve as the “boots on the ground” help for manufacturers become aware of, understand, and utilize certifications and credentials . Through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), the Federal government will collaborate with The Manufacturing Institute in a program to promote a curriculum based on NAM’s advanced manufacturing skills certification system in community colleges in 30 states. The 60 centers of the national MEP system will serve as the “boots on the ground” with local manufacturers to educate them about the value the NAM-endorsed skills certification system to their business so that they utilize the skills certification system in their recruitment and hiring efforts. In addition, the MEP will provide input to The Manufacturing Institute about aggregate skill needs of manufacturers by industry and geography so that certification systems can remain dynamic and evolving.
More details about the event and the President’s remarks are available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/06/08/building-partnerships-improve-manufacturing-workforce