So said President Barack Obama at an event at Northern Virginia Community College today focused on preparing the American workforce to compete in the 21st century manufacturing economy.
Announcing a major expansion to the Skills for America's Future campaign, President Obama touted a new initiative led by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member and accredited standards developer the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and its affiliate The Manufacturing Institute.
Under the initiative, The Manufacturing Institute will lead an effort to credential 500,000 community college students with skills certifications aligned to manufacturers' hiring needs. The NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System is a system of nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials applicable to all sectors in the manufacturing industry.
The manufacturing sector has led the economic recovery over the past two years, adding more than 230,000 jobs since the beginning of 2010. According to the White House, the nation's ability to win the future will depend in large part on our ability to train the most productive manufacturing workers in the world. The Manufacturing Skills Certification System will give students the opportunity to earn credentials that will travel across state lines, be valued by a range of employers, and improve earning power.
"Right now there are people all across America with talent waiting to be tapped; sparks waiting to be lit," President Obama continued. "Our job is to light them."
"In this highly competitive global market, our manufacturers' business success is tied directly to their ability to innovate, and the single most important factor in their innovation capacity is an educated and skilled workforce," said Emily Stover DeRocco, president of The Manufacturing Institute. "We know that most manufacturing jobs today require skills learned beyond high school, primarily in community colleges. And we now have a system of manufacturing skills certifications - standards of learning - that are being integrated into community college programs of study."
Partners in the Skills Certification System include ANSI member and accredited standards developer the American Welding Society, as well as ACT, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, and the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC). MSSC is currently an applicant for accreditation under ANSI's Personnel Certification Accreditation Program.
"ANSI accreditation is the gold standard for certification programs. It is recognized both nationally and internationally and has become the hallmark of a quality certification program," explained Jennifer McNelly, senior vice president of The Manufacturing Institute.
During today's press event, President Obama said that students need to know that the credentials they earn will be valuable when they hit the job market. According to Ms. McNelly, this level of quality assurance is precisely why the Institute is relying on ANSI accreditation for the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System.
Since the inception of ANSI's Personnel Certification Accreditation Program in 2003, the Institute has accredited 33 personnel certification bodies for 79 scopes in a range of industry sectors under the international standard ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024, Conformity assessment - General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons. To date, over 5.2 million professionals hold certifications from organizations accredited under ANSI's personnel certification programs. ANSI is the only personnel certification accreditation body in the U.S. to fulfill the requirements of ISO/IEC 17011:2004, Conformity assessment - General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies, which represents the highest internationally accepted practices for accreditation bodies.
See the White House press release for further details.