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Skills Certification System Targets High Unemployment, Unfilled Manufacturing Jobs

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April 2, 2009—The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is partnering with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and The Manufacturing Institute to create a skills certification system aimed at helping U.S. workers succeed in manufacturing jobs. The Manufacturing Skills Certification System will provide skills assessments, standardized curriculum requirements and portable credentials identified by manufacturers to assure them that new hires and existing employees have the core academic and workforce competencies required. 

"At a time when millions of Americans face unemployment, manufacturing jobs with excellent salaries-and across all skill levels and sectors-are unfilled because of the lack of qualified applications," says John Engler, president and CEO of NAM. "Tough economic times call for clear pathways to skills in demand."

The Manufacturing Institute, a nonprofit subsidiary of NAM, is establishing and operating the system, which is based on the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate and includes certification programs required by various industry groups for entry level positions. Higher levels of practitioners are reinforced by the SME certifications for manufacturing engineers and for manufacturing technologists.

"SME has long been a proponent of building a high-skilled workforce using outcome-based assessments," says Mark C. Tomlinson, SME's executive director and general manager. "This system provides the framework to make it happen."