NAM Receives Gates Grant for Skills Development

Community colleges will work with association to implement training programs

The National Association of Manufacturers' Manufacturing Institute said on May 27 it received a $1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to plan and implement postsecondary education programs that include a certification system endorsed NAM.

In the Manufacturing Institute initiative, the worker credentials needed by the industry will be integrated into associate degree programs offered in community colleges.

The Manufacturing Skills Certification System initially focuses on the core, basic skills required for entry-level workers in all sectors of manufacturing, from alternative energy and computers to aerospace and life-saving pharmaceuticals. The skills certifications address personal effectiveness competencies, foundational academic competencies, general workplace skills and manufacturing industry-wide technical skills. Entry-level science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills are included in the system.

"We need to engage kids in learning, and we need to give them options," said NAM President John Engler. "Moving these industry-recognized skills certifications into community college programs will provide meaningful, relevant education for students and ultimately produce a highly skilled and mobile workforce - making us more competitive in the global economy."

Forsyth Technical Community College in North Carolina, Lorain County Community College in Ohio, Alamo Colleges in Texas and Shoreline Community College in Washington will be the first to implement the certification system.

"Community colleges have taken the lead in adapting their postsecondary education to meet industry needs in their regional economies," said Manufacturing Institute President Emily DeRocco in a prepared statement. "Successful integration of industry-driven skills credentials by these progressive community colleges will revolutionize postsecondary education, ensuring graduates have credentials with real value in the workplace."

For more information about the Manufacturing Skills Certification System, visit www.manufacturingskills.org

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