IOWA CITY, Iowa—As our nation struggles with high unemployment, more than 80 percent of U.S. manufacturers report moderate to serious shortages in skilled production talent. On June 8, 2011, President Obama set in motion a set of initiatives to help solve this skill deficit by:
- Declaring his support of the Manufacturing Skills Certification System developed by the The Manufacturing Institute and endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). At the foundation of this system is the National Career Readiness Certificate offered by ACT.
- Highlighting a goal to credential a half million manufacturing workers over the next five years with skills certifications.
- Creating the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to provide nonpartisan advice on strengthening the nation’s economy and creating jobs, opportunity, and prosperity.
Today, we have tangible evidence of an action plan to begin addressing these issues. A pilot test will be announced today at an event to be held in Plymouth, Minnesota, at Productivity, Inc., at 1 pm CT. ACT will join The Manufacturing Institute, the President’s Jobs Council, and partner organizations to launch Right Skills Now, an action plan designed to help ensure that employers have the right people with the right skills in the right jobs—right now.
Right Skills Now offers an accelerated education program with advantages for both job seekers and employers. The goal is to get highly skilled, certified, work-ready talent to America’s employers faster.
Created through a partnership involving the President’s Jobs Council, The Manufacturing Institute, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, and ACT, Right Skills Now will begin a pilot in the Minneapolis area for eventual rollout to large and small manufacturers from coast to coast. The initial model focuses on high-demand machining skills, but the modular nature of the curriculum at area community colleges and the stackable credentials of the NAM-endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System can be implemented in other sectors and skill areas of the manufacturing economy.
Martin Scaglione, ACT Workforce Development Division president, will participate in a panel discussion at today’s event on the critical importance of workforce training to create jobs in the manufacturing sector. “Skill gaps carry serious consequences for our nation’s competitiveness in global markets,” said Scaglione. “Upskilling our workforce is an urgent priority. ACT workforce solutions play an important part in this process. We are pleased to have a role in this partnership that will help accelerate manufacturers’ access to skilled talent and individuals’ access to industry-recognized credentials while earning credit toward a degree—all while they are employed.”
ACT WorkKeys® assessments measure essential foundational skills and support the National Career Readiness Certificate which serves as the gateway credential to The Manufacturing Institute’s Skills Certification System.
Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis and the South Central Community College campuses in Faribault and North Mankato are the educational institutions participating in this Minnesota pilot. The colleges are aligning their curricula with an educational pathway leading to credentials for machining occupations. This means that new workers can more quickly master skills and qualify for immediate employment in high-demand jobs. Further, this learning process empowers employed workers to attain academic credit and prepare for higher-level responsibilities as they achieve additional credentials.
“Blending classroom learning and academic credit with employer-driven workplace competencies represents an important step in reforming the workforce development system,” added Scaglione. “Right Skills Now exemplifies these concepts by linking job-specific college courses with essential foundational skills.”