The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) has partnered with Purdue University Technical Assistance Program (TAP) on a Green Manufacturing Specialist Certificate Program. Purdue TAP has developed an extensive training program and SME has developed the outcome assessment. Each program component was built to work together or to use independently, creating a highly flexible workforce development solution.
Manufacturers are seeing the value of applying green practices to their processes. They are discovering that it's not only good for the environment, but practicing sustainability is also good for the bottom line. And, to be successful in reducing waste, manufacturing employees need to be able to view their work through "green lenses."
"When we hear about green workers in the media, most people think of jobs in alternative energy fields," said Jeannine Kunz, director of marketing and professional development at SME. "But the reality is that just about any job can — and should — be green. It's about developing skills within the current workforce so they can identify opportunities to implement environmentally friendly solutions on the plant floor."
In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently came out with its official definition of a green job. The first part describes the jobs we already think about as being part of the "green economy": Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.
It's the second half of the definition that stretches the current view of green jobs: Jobs in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.
SME worked with green subject-matter experts to research and build the Body of Knowledge (BOK) for the Green Manufacturing Specialist. The panel completed a job-task analysis for the green elements in every production worker's job. This resulted in a BOK that reflects the required knowledge and skills for success in the field.
The SME Green Specialist Outcome Assessment can be used by individual practitioners or manufacturing enterprises to measure current knowledge levels and identify areas where training may be needed. Training could be provided by Purdue TAP — which developed its curriculum based on the BOK — a Purdue TAP partner or by using online tools such as SME Tooling U or other qualified training programs. Practitioners can then choose to sit for the exam to earn their Green Manufacturing Specialist Certificate.
"The key is to be sure the training aligns to the industry-accepted Body of Knowledge," said Kunz. "That way you're assured the skills and knowledge you acquire are nationally recognized and demanded by manufacturers and are not specific to an individual training program."