Finding Manufacturing Jobs for Half-a-Million Students

U.S. manufacturers need an educated and skilled workforce to stay competitive in the 21st century economy, said President Obama during a speech to a Northern Virginia Community College audience this week. He called for employers and community colleges to work together to connect students with jobs.

In response, The Manufacturing Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers announced the goal of credentialing 500,000 community college students with skills certifications aligned to manufacturers’ hiring needs. The Manufacturing Institute’s NAM-Endorsed Skills Certification System is a first step in their partnership, known as the Skills for America’s Future initiative.

“In this highly competitive global market, our manufacturers’ business success is tied directly to their ability to innovate, and the single most important factor in their innovation capacity is an educated and skilled workforce,” said Emily Stover DeRocco, president, The Manufacturing Institute. “We know that most manufacturing jobs today require skills learned beyond high school, primarily in community colleges. And we now have a system of Manufacturing Skills Certifications – standards of learning – that are being integrated into community college programs of study.”

The President said that strong partnerships between manufacturers and community colleges to make these manufacturing credentials available nationwide supports the goal of providing 500,000 more skilled workers for the manufacturing industry within the next 5 years.

The Manufacturing Skills Certification System is managed by The Manufacturing Institute, the non-profit organization affiliated with the National Association of Manufacturers. Partners in the skills certification system include ACT, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the American Welding Society, the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, and the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council.

“As students and transitioning workers acquire these manufacturing skills credentials in community college programs of study, they also accumulate credits toward an associates or higher college degree, strengthening our STEM-capable workforce,” said DeRocco. “These credentials become educational pathways to new careers, and can even lead students on to engineering technology degrees and careers to create the next new products in automobiles, alternative energy, or aerospace.”

The President also announced key new business-education partnerships involving major manufacturing companies and non-profit organizations:

The Manufacturing Institute and Skills for America’s Future are forming a strategic partnership to promote the implementation of industry-recognized credentials and to recruit employers to implement the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System. The newly-formed partnership joins together The Manufacturing Institute’s commitment to helping students become certified through competency-based education and training with the Skills for America’s Future effort to connect employers with community colleges.

The board of directors of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), chaired by Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware, is establishing a five-year goal of helping 30,000 high-risk young people obtain professional credentials in high demand occupations including those in advanced manufacturing. Archer Daniels Midland Company, a leading global agribusiness with operations in 36 states and a JAG board member, will serve as JAG’s National Business Partner to build support for the credentialing initiative among employers throughout the United States and to help provide JAG students with good career guidance on high-quality, middle class jobs in advanced manufacturing.

Air Products, a global manufacturer serving customers in industrial, energy, technology and healthcare markets worldwide, is partnering with SkillsUSA to build partnerships with SkillsUSA’s 3500 member high schools and more than 200 colleges to include industry-recognized credentials in their career and technical education pathways, to connect with SkillsUSA’s 10.2 million alumni, and to champion the credentials with manufacturers and students.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and the SME Education Foundation, is partnering with the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, the National Academy Foundation, and General Dynamics – Ordnance and Tactical Systems, will provide over 1,000 mentorships every year for the next 5 years, continuing their long tradition of mentoring high school and college students, teachers, counselors, and administrators on the requirements for a career in the high skilled, high tech environment of the 21st century manufacturing plant.

Futures Inc. is partnering with The Manufacturing Institute to leverage Pipeline, an on-line talent connection platform that links qualified employees to employers with in-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing. The platform functions as a career navigation tool, using real-time data to inform individuals about career opportunities and directly link them to the education and training they need. Pipeline is a multi-media, collaborative career-path and job-resource center designed to help people find the right career, bridge skills gaps, prepare for success, and connect to a great job. Pipeline is already being put to use to ensure our transitioning military men and women have the best tools available to connect to civilian career opportunities. Supporting the commitment of the Institute, Futures Inc. will deploy Pipeline in partner states to connect the job seekers to training and rewarding careers in advanced manufacturing.

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