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Manufacturers Push Skills Certificate as Good Jobs Go Unfilled

Charlotte Observer (North Carolina) (05/30/12) Kevin Hall

Though thousands of manufacturing jobs are there for the taking, companies are currently unable to hire sufficiently skilled workers. “Five percent of manufacturing jobs go unfilled every day because we can’t find the skilled work force,” says Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. In an attempt to reduce the number of unfilled posts, manufacturers in 2010 began pushing creation of a portable skills certificate, one that would be recognized nationwide.

In 2011, the Manufacturing Institute’s Manufacturing Skills Certification System yielded almost 85,000 of the portable certificates that the group hopes to have recognized nationwide, nearly one-fifth of the trade association’s goal of 500,000 such certificates by 2016. The system provides what are actually known as “stackable” secondary education and post-secondary skills that employers have identified as necessary in order to get a job in manufacturing and advance up the career ladder. The “stackable” skills certificates cover everything from welding and applied math to demonstrable understanding of metalworking, packaging, construction, electronics, and die casting. To date, 113 colleges nationwide have partnered with the Manufacturing Institute, a number that is rising as more community colleges in particular participate.