The Value of ANSI Accreditation
ANSI's Accreditation Program for Personnel Certification Bodies was the first U.S. program to fulfill the requirements of ISO/IEC 17011, Conformity assessment - General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies, the benchmark for accreditation body practice.
For more information, visit www.ansi.org/accreditation.
MSSC's chairman and CEO, Leo Reddy, recently spoke with ANSI about this achievement and the importance of accreditation and certification to the manufacturing and logistics industry.
ANSI: At the end of 2011, MSSC received ANSI accreditation for its CLT and CPT programs. Two short years later, MSSC is celebrating its 50,000th certification. What is the significance of this accomplishment for MSSC?
Leo Reddy (LR): This milestone demonstrates that MSSC is truly the gold standard for frontline worker certification in manufacturing and logistics. It has been a journey of hard work by MSSC leadership, staff, and all of our partners throughout the country. In 1998, MSSC was established by the federal National Standards Board as the voluntary partnership for standards and certification in advanced manufacturing. We began issuing certifications in 2006, and issued just over 400 credentials the first year. At the time of our ANSI accreditation in December 2011, we had issued about 30,000 credentials, and now we have surpassed 50,000. Our current infrastructure includes over 560 assessment centers in 40 states. Seventeen states have statewide MSSC adoption, 12 of which were added in the past year.
ANSI: Why is ANSI accreditation and conformance important?
LR: MSSC is an industry-based CB. Manufacturing and logistics employers understand the value and rigor of ANSI/ISO accreditation, so our credentialed professionals have an edge in the current job market. Even if every hiring manager in the country isn't intimately familiar with the standards of the certification, they all know ISO [the International Organization for Standardization], and thus they know the rigor and value of the Certified Production Technician (CPT) and Certified Logistics Technician (CLT) certifications.
ANSI: What does it mean to MSSC to be the only national certification body to have both of its programs for manufacturing and logistics accredited under ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024?
LR: Certificates and certifications have become buzzwords in recent years. Virtually all federal funding for workforce training includes an industry-credential requirement. This and the continued reports of a skills gap have resulted in a proliferation of certificate programs, many of which are not industry recognized. How can employers, educators, students, and workers know which certifications are valid, industry-recognized, nationally portable credentials and which are not? As the only credentials in manufacturing and logistics which are ANSI accredited under ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024, CPT and CLT provide the entire stakeholder community with a clear choice.
ANSI: Was it difficult to achieve and maintain ANSI accreditation?
LR: The ANSI accreditation process is quite rigorous, and MSSC worked hard to earn the accreditation. The initial application process took two years to complete and required some changes to how MSSC operates. Now that we have completed the initial process, understand ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024, and have had the opportunity to meet various assessors and accredited CBs, maintaining accreditation is just part of doing business. Each year, we continue to improve.
ANSI: What's the connection between accreditation/conformance and preparing the next generation of production and material handling workers?
LR: Manufacturing and logistics play a vital role in the U.S. and global economies. The United States has always been a leader in innovation, which requires our workforce to be agile and highly skilled. MSSC brings to the table two certification programs that meet an international standard and help workers become flexible, lifelong learners who can meet the ever changing needs of the industry.
ANSI: Does accreditation/conformance facilitate workers' job security?
LR: The nationwide MSSC certifications, based upon industry-defined and federally endorsed national standards, offer both entry-level and incumbent workers the opportunity to demonstrate that they have acquired the knowledge and skills increasingly needed in the technology-intensive advanced manufacturing and logistics jobs of the 21st century.
ANSI: Does accreditation/conformance help with trimming costs, streamlining processes, and boosting a company's bottom line?
LR: Accreditation has certainly helped MSSC to streamline certain processes and ensure continuous improvement at all levels. Many of the current systems that MSSC has in place to maintain candidate data, register candidates, and ensure assessment security directly result from our ANSI compliance efforts. Improvements that we have made to better conform to ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 have helped us be better prepared for the growth we are now experiencing.
ANSI: Can you talk about MSSC's "20/20 Vision," to assess 20% of U.S. front-line manufacturing production and material handling workers in 20 years - 3 million workers by 2030?
LR: Reaching the 50,000 milestone is a major accomplishment on the way to the 20/20 goal, but there is still much work to be done. The manufacturing and logistics industries face a growing skills gap and brain drain as a result of older workers with institutional knowledge starting to retire in droves, a lack of interest in the industries by younger generations, and secondary programs that are more focused on getting students into a four-year degree program than making them work ready. However, MSSC stands uniquely poised to deliver a solution that meets the needs of education, industry, and workers.