Educational Initiative Offers Potential for Strengthening Manufacturing SectorJune 10th, 2011 by DWM Magazine
More than 11 million Americans are currently employed within the manufacturing sector, including those in the door and window and moulding and millwork industries, and now, thanks to new commitments by the private sector, community colleges and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), 500,000 community college students across the country will have the opportunity to get industry-accepted credentials for manufacturing jobs through a new program. Skills for America’s Future is an initiative designed to improve industry partnerships with community colleges and build a nationwide network to maximize workforce development strategies, job training programs and job placements and earlier this week President Obama announced a major expansion of the program.
“Through these efforts, we’re going to make it possible for 500,000 community college students — half a million community college students — to get industry-accepted credentials for manufacturing jobs that companies across America are looking to fill,” said President Obama. “Because the irony is even though a lot of folks are looking for work, there are a lot of companies that are actually also looking for skilled workers. There’s a mismatch that we can close. And this partnership is a great way to do it.”
According to the new initiative, 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. The Manufacturing Skills Certification System is designed to give students the opportunity to earn manufacturing credentials that will travel across state lines, be valued by a range of employers and improve earning power.
The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) says it is encouraged by this program.
“Industry leaders across the manufacturing sector are always looking for technically adept workers who will continue to drive progress, increase productivity and compete on a global scale. Given the current economic situation and wavering unemployment rate, it is essential to identify the credentials and skills that are required to succeed in developing this workforce segment,” says Rich Walker, AAMA president and chief executive officer. “For 11 consecutive years, AAMA’s scholarship program as offered families of member companies the opportunity to obtain financial support for higher education in pursuit of a degree related to the building products industry. Providing more opportunities for college students to earn relevant qualifications, will assure an adequate pool of young, skilled workers to compete in our industry that employs more than 11 million Americans.”
Brian Zimmerman, president of Gorell Windows and Doors, says it is it is hard to say whether the program will be effective or not until more details of this proposal are unveiled.
“What we do know is that there is a shortage of young workers who are considering careers in manufacturing,” says Zimmerman. “We find that many younger workers are pushed into the service sector thinking that it is the only way to make a good living. Even with high unemployment levels, it is often difficult to find skilled labor for manufacturing jobs.”
For the last ten years Gorell has been actively involved in raising local community awareness of the career opportunities that exist in manufacturing. The company works with local high schools and trade schools to show students what jobs they have to offer. Several times a year, the company brings large groups of students through the factory for plant tours.