(SME: Dearborn MI) -- During the next five years, there will be up to one million military personnel returning to civilian life and getting into the U.S. civilian workforce. Juxtapose this with the 600,000 jobs currently open in advanced manufacturing, and the anticipated need for 10 million skilled workers by 2020, and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) sees a “win-win” opportunity for all.
Starting this month, the U.S. Army will begin a pilot project to provide SME industry certifications to validate existing military personnel skills for civilian manufacturing jobs.
This is one of the first actions from the new Department of Defense’s “Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force” recently announced by President Obama.
Through this partnership with SME, the Army will expand certification opportunities for service members in highly specialized and technical engineering fields. The Army’s engineer school will conduct a one-year pilot program to assess the potential for engineer officers and warrant officers to meet SME’s Certified Manufacturing Technologist or Lean Bronze Certification credentials. These industry-recognized credentials will help service members qualify and pursue jobs as manufacturing technicians, technologists, and engineers in the private sector.
“We know that military personnel have solid skills with good work ethics, and have much to offer employers,” says Mark C. Tomlinson, the executive director and CEO of the SME. “With SME certifications in hand, they will also have industry credentials [that] manufacturers are familiar with—making it easier for vets to move into the civilian job market.”
The first cohort of soldiers will begin a six-week program at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, after which they will take the certification exams. As the pilot project progresses, the task force will work with SME and other credentialing organizations to identify and address gaps between military training programs and the credentialing and licensing requirements.
This partnership with the Department of Defense aligns with the White House’s goal to of having 500,000 workers receive NAM-endorsed manufacturing certifications during the next five years, and positions individuals for employment and advancement in manufacturing jobs.
“As advocates for addressing the manufacturing skills gap this nation is facing, SME is thrilled to find a new source of people ready and able to make things,” says Tomlinson. “To also be able to show our commitment to our military with the SME credentialing system, just makes the partnership even better.”