The two new IMIs will be funded by $140 million in federal money, along with a matching investment by private sources including companies and nonprofit organizations. They are part of a push by the U.S. government's National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) to establish up to 45 IMIs to support manufacturing innovation efforts, including a target of four new IMIs by the end of 2014. This proposed network of regional manufacturing innovation hubs is expected to make it easier for new manufacturing approaches and advances to make the jump from research to reality.
As innovative, high-tech manufacturing grows into an increasingly significant part of the U.S. economy, the need for highly skilled and competent manufacturing employees to fill the factories of tomorrow becomes more acute. In the recent years, there has been a huge growth in the number of training certificates and personnel certifications awarded by numerous credentialing organizations that have raised concerns about their quality, transparency and labor market value. In its role as the coordinator of the U.S. voluntary consensus standardization system and as a U.S. representative to the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), ANSI is focused on efforts to use accreditation to bolster the legitimacy and validation of personnel credentials in a variety of different fields and sectors, with manufacturing an area of special interest.
The ANSI accreditation process for bodies operating certification programs for individuals is based on the international and American National Standard ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024, Conformity assessment - General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons, the benchmark for personnel certification. This process is designed to provide assurance that accredited personnel certifiers are accurately assessing the knowledge and skills possessed by professionals in manufacturing and other industries, bolstering the mobility of these professionals and industry confidence in the legitimacy and accuracy of these certifications. Since the launch of ANSI's Personnel Certification Accreditation Program in 2003, the Institute has accredited over 160 personnel certification programs offered by 48 organizations across a range of industry sectors involving more than 5 million workers. One such body is the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC), an ANSI-accredited certification body that recently issued its milestone 50,000th credential [see related article].
ANSI also carries out important work in this area through the ANSI Certificate Accreditation Program (ANSI-CAP), which accredits organizations that issue education and training assessment-based certificates to the U.S. workforce. Launched in 2009, ANSI-CAP provides neutral, third-party attestation that a given certificate program meets ASTM E2659-09, Standard Practice for Certificate Programs, an American National Standard developed by ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International. By demonstrating compliance to this standard, accredited certificate programs further the development of a well-educated and qualified workforce.
The full White House announcement regarding the two new IMIs is available online.
To learn more about ANSI's Personnel Credentialing Accreditation Programs and its other accreditation efforts, visit www.ansi.org/accreditation.