Nocti Business Solutions is now part of a coalition actively helping close the skills gap, especially within the manufacturing sector. Working as part of an executive team, NBS will help approve manufacturing apprenticeship programs seeking industry recognition. Our specific focus is apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing, robotics, and automation.
Manufacturing is a fast-paced industry with job roles and skills evolving alongside new technology and automation. This framework allows us to work directly with employers who provide insight into the skills they require from an upcoming workforce. Apprentices in these programs will not only develop specific and industry-relevant skills but can feel confident they will have skills to make them desirable job candidates.
The Manufacturing Skills Gap
As you may already know, a “skills gap” is a term describing a misalignment between the workforce’s skills and the actual skills employers are looking for. While skills gaps are present in a few areas (STEM and digital skills), the gap is especially evident within advanced manufacturing roles. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found vacancies in manufacturing firms have tripled in the last ten years. Analysts predict 2.4 million jobs will go unfilled over the next decade, resulting in $454 billion in unrealized GDP.
Why is there such a large skills gap? The two largest factors are a retiring workforce and the new sets of skills required as manufacturing becomes more automated and digitally adept.
Apprenticeships Get a Boost
To help address America’s skills gap, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently established a system for helping industry organizations and employers develop high-quality apprenticeship programs. These Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) are focused in areas where apprenticeship opportunities are not widespread. They provide individuals a way to obtain industry-relevant knowledge and advance their skills. IRAPs must meet specific requirements including:
- Paid work
- Written training program
- Training for jobs requiring specialized knowledge and experience
- Credit for prior knowledge
- Industry-recognized credentials
An IRAP is developed or delivered by trade and industry groups, corporations, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, unions, and joint labor-management organizations. However, to achieve an IRAP distinction, the program must first be recognized by a Standards Recognition Entity (SRE).
What is an SRE?
A Standards Recognition Entity is “a third-party entity, recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) as qualified to recognize apprenticeship programs as IRAPs.” These organizations are important workforce development leaders as they have a direct hand in helping apprenticeship programs set the standards and equip a new generation of workers with the skills they need to succeed in an evolving job market.
SREs are responsible for setting competency-based standards, as well as the training, structure, and curricula of the approved IRAPs. Other duties include:
- Recognizing high-quality IRAP that meet minimum safety, pay, and training requirements
- Establishing policies and procedures for recognizing, and validating compliance of, programs that ensure SRE decisions are impartial, consistent, and based on objective and merit-based criteria
- Reviewing programs and validating that each program meets the high-quality criteria of an IRAP at initial recognition and on an annual basis
NBS/NOCTI & Industry Partners Recognized as SRE
In November 2020, the Department of Labor named NBS/NOCTI along with other industry partners as an SRE. While the DOL will review SRE applications quarterly, only 27 SREs have been recognized so far.
The SRE NBS is working within combines the expertise of several key industry partners:
- FANUC‘s world-renowned robotics and CNC
- Rockwell Automation’s advanced controls
- APT Manufacturing’s experience in system integration
- NBS/NOCTI’s expertise in credentialing
Working as part of this coalition is a unique opportunity for NBS to work in a specific and targeted way to help close the manufacturing skills gap. By approving apprenticeship programs as an IRAP, we are filling the pipeline of qualified workers in advanced manufacturing and automation—an area that has seen many changes and requires highly skilled workers.
As a leading provider of industry skills assessments and credentialing solutions, we are excited to be a part of this alliance. We will continue to provide the necessary tools for trainees to demonstrate their knowledge and skills through nationally recognized credentials. For more information on SREs or IRAPS, please visit apprenticeship.gov.
Begin Closing Your Skills Gap with NBS
Our role as an SRE isn’t the only way we work to close the skills gap. We also provide technical skills assessments and pre-employment tests for employers across every industry. Our tests measure industry-relevant skills and knowledge, helping you hire only the most skilled and qualified candidates. We also offer customized assessments to help employers meet specific challenges. Please contact us with any questions or to set up a free consultation to discuss how pre-employment tests can help you build a more qualified and resilient workforce.
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