New Manufacturing Skill Certification

November 4, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council will introduce its new certification system during a launch event in Grand Rapids Nov. 15 and 16.

Grand Rapids Community College and The Right Place Inc. are hosting the event at Steelcase University Learning Center.

"West Michigan is a hub of manufacturing and we will continue to be so, that's why we're hosting it," said Andy Bowne, director of college advancement and former director of work-force training and economic development for Grand Rapid Community College.

Bowne said the certification, which is a nationally recognized standard, will help people to get jobs in manufacturing or to get better placement in manufacturing jobs. The certification includes assessment in manufacturing processes and production, quality assurance, maintenance awareness, and health, safety and environmental assurance.

It will also impact the curriculum of Grand Rapids Community College and other education institutions that plan to be a certifying body.

"We will very intentionally look at how this impacts what we offer," Bowne said.

Leo Reddy, founder of the National Council for Advanced Manufacturing and manager of MSSC, said that hopefully the certification system will become as recognizable as the Automotive Service Excellence certification in the automotive repair industry.

"We're hoping, of course, over time that it will be used by millions of manufacturing workers," he said.

The certification will be for foundational skills in manufacturing, an approach that is different in that it does not certify in any particular area of manufacturing, but addresses skills such as math, science, reading, writing, communications, analysis, problem-solving, teamwork, organization, planning and basic technical skills as they are used in manufacturing.

Reddy said the new foundational approach will help workers be prepared for a variety of jobs in the manufacturing industry and to adapt as the jobs change.

"The name of the game, if we're going to be innovative, is change," he said. "It's a very future-looking approach."

Michelle Cleveland, vice president of The Right Place, said the certification is the result of 10 years of work by those in and around the manufacturing industry.

"This is the first cross-industry-sector production skill standard of its kind in the United States," she said. "It has been truly a community of professionals who are deeply engaged in the advancement of manufacturing."

Cleveland said the certification standard will help both manufacturers and their employees.

"The individual person has a portable credential that is highly rigorous in attaining it," she said. "They walk with that credential to wherever they can become gainfully employed."

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