Educational Initiative Offers Potential for Strengthening America's Manufacturing Sector
June 9, 2011

More than 11 million Americans are currently employed within the manufacturing sector, including those in the glass industry, and now, thanks to new commitments by the private sector, community colleges and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) as part of the Skills for America’s Future initiative, 500,000 community college students across the country will have the opportunity to get industry-accepted credentials for manufacturing jobs. Skills for America’s Future is an initiative designed to improve industry partnerships with community colleges and build a nation-wide network to maximize workforce development strategies, job training programs and job placements and yesterday President Obama announced a major expansion of the program.

“Through these efforts, we’re going to make it possible for 500,000 community college students -- half a million community college students -- to get industry-accepted credentials for manufacturing jobs that companies across America are looking to fill,” said President Obama. “Because the irony is even though a lot of folks are looking for work, there are a lot of companies that are actually also looking for skilled workers. There’s a mismatch that we can close.  And this partnership is a great way to do it.”

According to the new initiative, one of the challenges in today’s manufacturing sector is the lack of a standardized credentialing system that manufacturing firms recognize as useful preparation for their unfilled jobs. The Manufacturing Skills Certification System is designed to give students the opportunity to earn manufacturing credentials that will travel across state lines, be valued by a range of employers and improve earning power.

Groups involved in the glass and glazing industry see this initiative as a positive step, and both the American Architectural Manufacturer Association (AAMA) and the Glass Association of North America (GANA) are encouraged by this program.

“Industry leaders across the manufacturing sector are always looking for technically adept workers who will continue to drive progress, increase productivity and compete on a global scale. Given the current economic situation and wavering unemployment rate, it is essential to identify the credentials and skills that are required to succeed in developing this workforce segment,” says Rich Walker, AAMA president and chief executive officer.
“For 11 consecutive years, AAMA’s scholarship program as offered families of member companies the opportunity to obtain financial support for higher education in pursuit of a degree related to the building products industry. Providing more opportunities for college students to earn relevant qualifications, will assure an adequate pool of young, skilled workers to compete in our industry that employs more than 11 million Americans.”

“GANA has always been a supporter of education within the glass and glazing industry, whether that is by funding scholarships for students from the GANA Educational Foundation, or hosting educational conferences for the industry as a whole,” says Ashley Charest, GANA account executive. “As a member of NAM, we are interested in this program, which could potentially bring even more highly-skilled workers into our industry.”

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