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Education & Workforce Development

Certification of Manufacturing Employees, the Next Productivity Increase

By John L. Bisol, MEd., Assistant Professor/Coordinator – Manufacturing Technology, Quinsigamond Community College

Prior to the latest manufacturing implosion there were no "firm requirements" for employees to prove to prospective employers that they could perform the work outlined in their job description.  It was hoped for by the employer that newly hired workers would understand their role in manufacturing and more importantly, how the manufacturing enterprise itself "worked." Simply put, workers were assumed to know what was going on in the factory and how their decisions would affect product quality and costs. 

However, outsourcings and continuing global economic adjustments have changed the fundamental way in which employers and employees set expectations for job performance and employment sustainability. Future manufacturing employees will face increasing demands to demonstrate not only traditional "tactile skills," but also unique skills required for global manufacturing competition.

The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) is one of a number of industry led standards-based, training, assessment, and certification systems focused on the core skills and knowledge required by the nation’s production and supply chain logistics workers.  The nationwide MSSC Certification System is based upon industry – defined and federally endorsed national standards.

The MSSC offers certificate(s) and/or certification for Production Workers (Certified Production Technician or CPT) and Front Line Workers in Supply Chain Logistics (Certified Logistics Associate or CLA) as well as mid-level Supply Chain Logistics (Certified Logistics Technician or CLT).  Analogous to the present "ASE" (Automotive Service Excellence) certification, (which has become the standard for quality in the automotive repair sector), these CPT and CLA/T Certifications will document the quality standards for front line workers in our nation’s factories.

The overall thrust of these certifications has four basic premises:

  • Provide a pipeline of skilled workers by embedding the tenets of MSSC certification training into schools
  • Decrease employer recruitment costs by providing job candidates with valid industry –  recognized credentials.
  • Eliminate employer remedial training costs by providing well-prepared workers.
  • Provide employers with a diagnostic tool to benchmark incumbent workers against high-performance national standards.

The MSSC, itself, does NOT set or establish the National Skills Standards.  The MSSC is a certifying agency that provides the employee with a method of showing a mastery of skills acquired through either on-the-job training or academic application. National Skills Standards for Manufacturing are the domain of the National Skills Standard Board.

Certification testing and assessment is accomplished at designated centers.  Successful certification requires not only a thorough background of the right core skills and knowledge to keep pace with technological changes, but also an educational foundation to include math, science, reading, writing, communications, IT, analysis, problem-solving, teamwork, organization, planning, and basic technical skills – all in a manufacturing context.

The federal National Skill Standards Board formally recognized MSSC as the "Voluntary Partnership for Manufacturing" in 1998 and officially endorsed the MSSC’s industry-led, nationally validated certification through standards in 2001.  The development of the National Skills Standards involved 4000 front-line workers, 700 companies, leading industrial unions, 350 subject matter experts, and a public-private investment of over $9 million.

Detailed information about the MSSC Certification program may be obtained from the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council,  140 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 T: 703-739-9000 F: 703-739-9009 or at their website:


John Bisol is the Program Coordinator for the Manufacturing Technology Department at Quinsigamond Community College.  Prior to assuming his role as an instructor, Professor Bisol was a Mechanical Engineer by profession, and worked in numerous manufacturing facilities for over 20 years as an Engineer, Manager & Director. He continues to consult with companies on a part time basis.

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