The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), a standards and workforce certification agency focused on the metalworking industry, reported that during 2013 it awarded a record number of credentials to individuals seeking new or advanced accreditation for skilled jobs in manufacturing. NIMS issued 13,888 industry-recognized credentials in 2013, an increase of 58.8% over 2012.

"These numbers show that manufacturing employers are increasingly in need of skilled talent, and individuals are seeking to validate their skills and differentiate themselves in the hiring pool through industry-recognized and standards-based credentials," stated NIMS executive director Jim Wall, Executive Director, NIMS.

The lack of workers skilled in the machining, programming, quality control, and other related manufacturing skills has been a frequent concern of employers.

The problem also has drawn attention from government and other economic leaders, seeking an approach to address long-standing unemployment problems, as well as competition issues. 

NIMS was formed in 1995 by metalworking trade associations to set skills standards for the industry, certify individual skills against the standards, and accredit training programs that meet NIMS quality requirements.

"As manufacturing becomes more complex, technology-driven, and innovative, companies, workers, and students need to keep up with evolving industry standards and job requirements," Wall continued.

"As a contract manufacturer of customized parts, we market the skills and abilities of our employees to potential customers," offered Greg Chambers, director of corporate compliance for Oberg Industries Inc., a manufacturer of precision-machined parts and tooling in Freeport, PA. "We prefer that our current workforce and the individuals we hire have NIMS credentials, because it tells us-and our customers-that they can perform to industry standards and have an edge in the highly competitive marketplace."

NIMS has developed standards for entry-level to master-level skills for metalworking operations, including metalforming and machining. NIMS certifies individuals' skills against these national standards via credentials that companies can use to recruit, hire, place, and promote individual workers. Training programs, such as those at community and technical colleges, incorporate the credentials as performance or completion measures of academic coursework in metalforming or machining programs.

"As an employer, it is important to know the capabilities of a candidate — especially when you are relying on them to add to the value of your business and your customers' businesses," noted Jamie Price, president of Sandvik Coromant USA.

"NIMS Certifications are the easiest way for a candidate to show his or her area of expertise. That credential on your resume shows that you can be trusted with a business' production and processes," he added.

"Building and accessing a high-caliber workforce is a top priority for Haas Automation, which is why we work to provide students with a relevant, high-tech and hands-on educational experience, so that they can become work-ready CNC machinists, programmers, and engineers for today's industrial employers," said Bob Skodzinsky, Haas Technical Education Center Network program director, Haas Automation.

"Using NIMS' standards and credentials in our programs guarantees that the students are receiving relevant and quality training, and ensures that they will be competitive the second they apply for a job in the industry."