RCC named partner in manufacturing certificate program

workforce student

An employee of Potomac Supply, who qualified for the designation “journeyman millwright” through a training program customized and administered by RCC-Workforce, measures openings to ensure their correct size and alignment.

The Manufacturing Skills Institute (MSI), the workforce development affiliate of the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA), announced recently that Rappahannock Community College has been designated as an authorized MSI Assessment Center. Initially, the partnership will introduce the MSI Manufacturing Technician Level 1 (MT1) certificate program as a baseline credential for Virginia’s manufacturers.

“We are very pleased and excited to offer manufacturing credentials within our service region, as a VMA partner,” says Jason Perry, RCC’s vice president for workforce development. “This is great timing, since enrollment in our technical skills courses is booming, and the participants will now be able to follow up successful completion of their programs by earning an industry-recognized certification.”

The 12 core competencies certified by the MT1 — algebra; measurement; math for quality; statistical process controls; spatial reasoning; mechanics; fluid power and thermodynamics; electricity; chemistry; manufacturing processes and controls; quality and lean manufacturing; and financial literacy and business acumen — will be integrated into RCC’s degree pathways and dual enrollment opportunities, so that graduating classes will already have the critical technical skills that are fundamental to occupations in advanced technology industries.

Also, in addition to serving as an authorized MSI Assessment Center, RCC is now eligible for its faculty to pursue Certified MT1 Trainer status, which will allow them to teach MSI-approved courses in order to develop any skills that the MT1 assessment identifies as below its standard.

“The MT1 certification can be a launching pad for individuals across Virginia,” says Dr. Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System.

“This holds the potential to be a ‘stackable’ credential that helps a person on the pathway to a specific career within the manufacturing field, like welding, metal working or mechatronics.” The VCCS system office has been an active collaborator in the ongoing industry-education partnership between its member institutions and the MSI. RCC is the 11th of the 23 VCCS colleges to host an MSI Assessment Center.

The MT1 is included in the Manufacturing Skills Certifications System endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers, and is approved by the Virginia Board of Education for high school use. It has also been approved for use by Workforce Investment Boards, for the benefit of both special populations and veterans wishing to improve their manufacturing skills.

“We knew in 2007 that manufacturers would have a skills gap of approximately 11,000 people a year,” says MSI executive director Katherine DeRosear. “We also knew that the largest need was in the ‘manufacturing technician’ occupation, and that 96 percent of manufacturers wanted people with these applied and measurable skills. Although the economic challenges of the last few years slowed demand, it is back — we need to move quickly, and this partnership between MSI and Virginia’s community colleges will help close the skills gaps for manufacturers.”