The Manufacturing Institute has partnered with Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana’s four-year public universities to create college education programs aligned to nationally portable, industry-recognized skills credentials for careers in advanced manufacturing. As part of the project, Conexus Indiana — the state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative focused on strategic workforce development — will take the lead in industry engagement in the new college programs, while ensuring the foundational skills gained effectively feed into higher-level education and training credentials in the industry. The partnership is supported by a $650,000 grant from Lumina Foundation for Education.
The initiative will build college programs that prepare students, particularly low-income young adults and transitioning workers, with entry-level skills necessary to succeed in advanced manufacturing careers such as aerospace, transportation, logistics, and machining.
With a 9.5% jobless rate and 15 million Americans looking for work, a surprising number of employers are having difficulty filling positions in advanced manufacturing.
Lumina Foundation for Education is an Indianapolis-based private foundation dedicated to expanding access to and success in education beyond high school. The Foundation supports projects nationwide that help increase the proportion of Americans with college degrees and the necessary credentials to enter the workforce. With better access to industry-recognized, nationally portable credentials, students and workers can receive the quality education and training needed to respond to the demands of local manufacturers, who depend on talent-driven innovation for survival and growth in the competitive global marketplace.
“We need to engage more young people and unemployed workers in learning skills that translate to high-quality jobs in our economy,” said Manufacturing Institute President Emily DeRocco. “By deploying the Manufacturing Skills Certification System as stackable credentials in Indiana colleges, we will be offering new pathways to employment and advancement in manufacturing, which is a mainstay of the state’s economy.”
“Integrating these industry skills certifications in our programs of study dramatically improves how we prepare individuals for manufacturing jobs,” said Tom Snyder, president of Ivy Tech Community College. “We will enhance and accelerate our delivery of a manufacturing workforce for Indiana, equipped with advanced, 21st century skills.”
Support from Lumina Foundation positions Indiana as the fifth state receiving private, independent funding to establish the Manufacturing Skills Certification System as the statewide standard for manufacturing education. Forsyth Technical Community College in North Carolina, Lorain County Community College in Ohio, Alamo Colleges in Texas and Shoreline Community College in Washington have set a national precedent for deploying the System.
“Twenty-five percent of our state’s economy is attributable to manufacturing,” said Steven Dwyer, president and CEO of Conexus Indiana, and former COO, Rolls-Royce Corporation. “The availability of a skilled workforce determines if and where manufacturers choose to locate. Development of a credentialed talent pool in this state will help us keep and attract new manufacturing jobs to Indiana.”
The Manufacturing Skills Certification System initially focuses on the core, basic skills required for entry-level workers in all sectors of manufacturing, from alternative energy and computers to aerospace and life-saving pharmaceuticals. The skills certifications address personal effectiveness competencies, foundational academic competencies, general workplace skills and manufacturing industry-wide technical skills. Applied science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills are included in the system.
The system organizes individual certification programs designed and validated by partners ACT, Inc.; the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council; the American Welding Society; the National Institute of Metalworking Skills; and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers into a national structure creating educational pathways with “stackable” credentials leading to an associate’s degree.