NIMS Announces Record Number of Metalworking Credentials issued in 2014

January 20, 2015

Credentials issued by NIMS in 2014 show that more students are preparing for success and high-demand careers.


In 2014, NIMS issued 18,947 industry-recognized credentials, representing a 36% increase from 2013.

36% increase!

“It is clear that the precision manufacturing sector is strong and growing, and more students and workers are preparing for success in the wide variety of jobs our industry offers,” said Jim Wall, Executive Director, NIMS. “NIMS would like to congratulate more than 8,000 individuals who earned at least one industry-recognized credential last year and have the ‘mark of excellence’ that will make them highly sought-after talent.”

PMPA is a founding member of NIMS, and is pleased to see this success at credentialing talent to enter our high tech industry. Credentialing real people for in demand careers, developing standards and credentials, this is how we develop an advanced manufacturing workforce to sustain manufacturing in North America. As NIMS continues to upgrade and adapt the standards to our evolving technology, we have confidence that our credentialed new hires will be up to speed and able to safely add value on the first day of the job. NIMS standards are the basis for the Right Skills Now Program.

The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) was formed in 1995 by the metalworking trade associations to develop and maintain a globally competitive American workforce. NIMS sets skills standards for the industry, certifies individual skills against the standards, and accredits training programs that meet NIMS quality requirements.

For more information on NIMS, visit NIMSREADY

For the full release on 2014 credentials earned, visit RELEASE

For information on Careers in Advanced Manufacturing check out our career blog at YOURCAREERFACTS


Where The Jobs Are- USA Today

November 14, 2014

Titled “More High Schools Teach Manufacturing Skills” the article confirms that ” U.S. high schools that have launched or revived manufacturing programs in recent years to guide students toward good-paying jobs and help fill a critical shortage of skilled machinists, welders and maintenance technicians.”

Here are a couple of points that they make that are worth sharing:

  • There is a glaring imbalance in the labor market. Despite high unemployment since the recession, manufacturers still struggle to fill hundreds of thousands of job openings.
  • Manufacturing is dogged by an outdated image
  • Manufacturing is “Actually,you’re working with computers and robots that are doing what you used to do by hand. That requires a skill set (in math and science) above what was required a generation ago.”
  • Community colleges also are turning out more prospective employees but not keeping up with demand. Nationwide, community colleges awarded 1,557 associate degrees or certificates in manufacturing last year, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. That’s up from 616 in 2005 but below the nearly 1,600 doled out in 2000.

In addition,  the USA Today piece has some informative graphics and video clips.

Here are some facts to consider.

Here are some facts to consider.

But the best takeaway from this piece is a quote from a student whose engagement with the manufacturing class has improved his grade performance and motivation:

With this class, I have the motivation…It’s a way out, I don’t want to be working at McDonald’s.”

Thank you USA Today for this positive story.

October 2014 ISM PMI-Manufacturing Remains Robust

November 3, 2014

“The October PMI® registered 59 percent, an increase of 2.4 percentage points from September’s reading of 56.6 percent, indicating continued expansion in manufacturing. The New Orders Index registered 65.8 percent, an increase of 5.8 percentage points from the 60 percent reading in September, indicating growth in new orders for the 17th consecutive month. The Production Index registered 64.8 percent, 0.2 percentage point above the September reading of 64.6 percent. The Employment Index grew for the 16th consecutive month, registering 55.5 percent, an increase of 0.9 percentage point above the September reading of 54.6 percent. Inventories of raw materials registered 52.5 percent, an increase of 1 percentage point from the September reading of 51.5 percent, indicating growth in inventories for the third consecutive month. Comments from the panel generally cite positive business conditions, with growth in demand and production volumes.”-  Bradley J. Holcomb, Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®

Highest level since  early 2011

Highest level since early 2011

Outstanding October
Sixteen of eighteen manufacturing industries reported growth in October.

We were especially pleased to see New Orders up 5.8 points to 65.8.

The October ISM PMI numbers reflected the  PMPA’s Business Trends results for September:

“The PMPA Business Trends Index for September increased 2 points (1.7%) from 117 to 119. This is the highest value for

September in the 5 years since the recession’s low of 83. September 2014’s 119 is 7 points, or 6.25% higher than the value for

September 2013. (On PMPA’s recently completed Shop Hourly Wage Survey, we determined that sales had increased 6% year over

year for those shops reporting in both 2013 and 2014.) The Sales Index average, year to date, is 121.9, up 4.9 points from the 2013

calendar year average. Six of the eight months this year have had an index value higher than that of the prior year. “

PMPA member companies continue to report strong sales and increasing lead times as the North American manufacturing economy continues to show its strength.

Now is a great time to be engaged in precision machining as advanced manufacturing continues to grow here in North America.


Graph courtesy Calculated Risk Blog

Precision Plus Training Initiatives Featured in STEM Magazine

October 31, 2014

Precision Plus, Inc. is featured in the latest issue of Wisconsin STEM Pathways Magazine. 

The article, entitled Companies in the Classroom–Putting the Classroom in the Workplace, chronicles the company’s two year journey from a concept to the reality of having an internship and a apprenticeship program for high school and college students, as well as a fully equipped classroom within its facilities.

Pathways-Article copy

PMPA member companies recognize the challenge of finding a skilled workforce.

That’s why companies like Precision Plus, Inc. are actually doing something about it.

And why we are active working locally and  nationally to make a difference and change the conversation about skills and careers and economic success.

Congratulations to Precision Plus, Inc., for leading the way to create the skilled workforce our industry needs.

To download a PDF of the complete article, click here.

The Precision Plus Inc. Blog

Precision Plus Website

Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology- Equipment Upgrades = Workforce Upgrades

October 30, 2014

Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster PA was recently awarded a JOBS1st PA Tech Grant of $148,970 to upgrade equipment in the Machine Tool and Computer-Aided Manufacturing Technology and Automotive Collision Repair Technology Applied Science degree programs. Funds will be used to purchase a CNC vertical machining center and a CNC turning center for the manufacturing program.

PMPA wrote a letter in support of the grant application in June.


Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Julia K Hathaway announced the award.

PMPA’s letter of support noted that the grant would “build regional capacity in small and mid size businesses that do precision machining.”

How important is that?

According to PMPA research “We know of 45 precision machining firms (NAICS 332721) in Pennsylvania with annual sales ranging from $250,000 to $33 Million. The average industry shop within PMPA has about $8 million in sales. A recent study  shows that 80% of manufacturers cannot find skilled talent to fill their production jobs. As a result, there are over half a million manufacturing jobs open right now. The demand for trained workers continues to grow in Pennsylvania and the  pipeline of skilled workers needs to be strengthened and enlarged to address advancing technology and skills in this changing industry.”

The addition of the CNC vertical machining center and CNC turning center does just that.

The equipment upgrades at Thaddeus Stevens are the means that Thaddeus Stevens will use to deliver “workforce upgrades” to its local market area in Pennsylvania.

PMPA is proud of our support of their grant request to make this award become a reality.

The skilled workforce issue is the top challenge facing our industry. PMPA is working on many fronts to help solve this challenge.

What are YOU doing to help meet the skilled workforce challenge that your shop faces?


The Atlantic-Apprenticeships- Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers

October 28, 2014

The need for talent is a universal concern- in Germany and in North America. The German apprenticeship model is effective in Germany. But can it be successfully transplanted here?

The Atlantic recently posted an article discussing the German Apprenticeship model here

Machinists are in high demand.

Machinists are in high demand.

They gave 3  key differences between German and US ideas of apprenticeships:

  1. The first thing you notice about German apprenticeships: The employer and the employee still respect practical work. German firms don’t view dual training as something for struggling students or at-risk youth. “This has nothing to do with corporate social responsibility,” an HR manager at Deutsche Bank told the group I was with, organized by an offshoot of the Goethe Institute. “I do this because I need talent.”
  2. The second thing you notice: Both employers and employees want more from an apprenticeship than short-term training. Our group heard the same thing in plant after plant: We’re teaching more than skills. “In the future, there will be robots to turn the screws,” one educator told us. “We don’t need workers for that. What we need are people who can solve problems”—skilled, thoughtful, self-reliant employees who understand the company’s goals and methods and can improvise when things go wrong or when they see an opportunity to make something work better.
  3. A final virtue of the German system: its surprising flexibility. Skeptical Americans worry that the European model requires tracking, and it’s true, German children choose at age 10 among an academic high school, a vocational track, or something in between. But it turns out there’s a lot of opportunity for trainees to switch tracks later on. They can go back to school to specialize further or earn a master craftsman’s certificate or train as a trainer in the company’s apprenticeship program—and many do.

Beyond ROI

The question that most North American businessmen have when discussing this issue is ROI- Return On Investment.

In Germany,  according to the article, the State pays the training expense for each apprentice-

In the U.S., Companies will have to foot the bill for almost all expenses themselves.

Trained and credentialed employees will have the freedom to leave the employer, arguably before that employer can get any return on their training investment. see our post “What if I train them and They Leave?”

We think that the cost problem and the ROI problem can be solved, with work, here in North America.

But the problem that we need to solve first  is what The Atlantic piece calls “the biggest obstacle:”

American attitudes toward practical skills and what Germans still unabashedly call “blue-collar” work. In America… we’re suspicious of anything that smacks of training.

I know as a parent, there is a lot of social pride at having ones children attend university.

But I am starting to see that the real pride is not about the university that one’s child attends, it is rather the fact that they got a job capable of offering a return on  the Investment of all those college expenses.

The real pride for parents these days is being able to say that their child in fact has a full time job. Is living independently. And is not overburdened with debt.

In North America,  the way to accomplish this is by “earn as you learn” to pursue a degree after getting a well paying career started. Often the employer provides tuition assistance.

Getting started in a well paying career in advanced manufacturing  can be as simple as a one semester training program at a local community college. Not years and years of loans and expenses and fees with no immediate ROI. Earn as you learn makes ROI simultaneous with your efforts, not some dreamed for, long in the distant future hoped for outcome.

Prospects for employment remain strong in the precision machining industry:

In September 2014, ~97 % of respondents (76/78 companies) expect Employment prospects to increase or remain the same over next three months. Prospects for employment remain strongly positive.

What is going to be the key for adopting apprenticeships here in North America?

I think that it will be the realization by all affected- businesses, potential employees, parents of students, educators, government officials- that there truly exists a critical need for talent.

In Germany, everyone knows this. Over here, well, for sure the employers do. everyone else- that is anyone’s guess.

What Are You Doing to Attract Talent to Manufacturing- Bracalente Manufacturing Group

October 7, 2014

“Due to robotics and automation, our technician jobs are becoming higher paid and higher skilled”- Ron Bracalente, CEO, Bracalente Manufacturing Group

Manufacturing Day event at Bracalente Manufacturing Group. Real People. Real jobs.

Manufacturing Day event at Bracalente Manufacturing Group. Real People. Real jobs.

PMPA member Bracalente Manufacturing Group held their first MFG Day event last week. Students got to see first hand what a career in Precision machining could look like.

The event helped to change the conversation regarding the need for skilled people in advanced manufacturing companies like Bracalente Group.

Bracalente Group’s Trumbauersville, PA  event hosted :

  • 120 9th graders 
  • 20 students  from the local Vo-tech school,
  • 90  students from the new STEM program.

The STEM program is a college preparatory class structure for kids that are interested in Engineering and Tech.

Here is a video from The Intelligencer who reported on MFG Day.

Bracalente Manufacturing Group hosts local students to MFG Day event

PMPA member companies across the U.S. and Canada joined Bracalente in helping to change the conversation regarding options for satisfying well paying technical careers.

What are YOU doing to change the conversation?