The New Face of Manufacturing: Record Number Seeking Credentials in Metalworking
One of the biggest challenges facing today’s manufacturers is finding workers who possess the necessary skills to be successful in advanced manufacturing jobs. The lack of skilled labor is such an issue, it has prompted a movement by manufacturers, industry associations, vocational and technical schools, colleges and universities, and even governments to come together for solutions to this burgeoning problem. Consequently, a number of new workforce development programs have sprung up across the country, but it’s too soon to tell what impact these programs will have on the labor pool.
But there is some evidence that efforts to improve the manufacturing workforce are paying off. This year, the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS)—the metalworking industry’s primary standards and workforce certification body—announced that it awarded a record number of credentials last year to individuals seeking to enter into or advance in jobs in metalworking. In 2013, NIMS issued 13,888 industry-recognized credentials, representing an impressive 58.8 percent increase from 2012.
“These numbers show that manufacturing employers are increasingly in need of skilled talent, and individuals are seeking to validate their skills and differentiate themselves in the hiring pool through industry-recognized and standards-based credentials,” said Jim Wall, executive director of NIMS. “As manufacturing becomes more complex, technology-driven and innovative, companies, workers, and students need to keep up with evolving industry standards and job requirements.”
According to a release, more than 6,000 metalworking companies and major industry trade associations have invested over $7.5 million in private funds to develop NIMS standards and credentials that prepare and advance the industry’s workforce, and continue to upgrade and maintain the standards as the industry changes.
Skills standards developed by NIMS range from entry- to master-level in operations such as
metalforming and machining. NIMS certifies an individual’s skill level according to these standards and provides credentials that companies can use to recruit, hire, place and promote employees. Community and technical colleges use these credentials as performance or completion measures of academic coursework in metalforming and machining programs.
NIMS has also partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor to create the Competency-Based Apprenticeship System, the result of over two years of work with input from more than 300 companies in the program’s design. This system integrates NIMS’ national standards and skill certifications in defining and measuring required competencies in metalworking.