Robot in action; Photo: Wayne LabsPMMI has partnered with the Manufacturing Institute and the Industrial Maintenance Training Center of Pennsylvania (IMTC) to support training that can lead to jobs in high-performance, “hybrid” production shops. The partnership will bring 10 community colleges and technical schools in Pennsylvania into alignment with the requirements of the mechatronics certificates PMMI offers online, with an end goal of replicating the partnership across the country.

More than 500 students are projected to earn PMMI Mechatronics Certificates across the IMTC consortium over the next two years. Initially, Reading Area Community College (Reading) and the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center (Lancaster) will offer certification assessments. The Community College of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), North Montco Technical Career Center (Lansdale), Precision Manufacturing Institute (Meadville), the Central PA Institute of Science & Technology (State College) and the Lehigh Career and Technical Institute, which serves school districts in the Lehigh Valley, are also building capacity to offer the certification assessments.

PMMI’s Mechatronics Certificate program is part of the NAM-endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System, a series of stackable credentials to provide the skills manufacturers need for high-demand occupations. The program is the result of a partnership between PMMI, the Mid-Atlantic Mechatronics Advisory Council and several packaging and technical schools. The US Department of Labor added the skills standard on which it is based to its Competency Model Clearinghouse in 2009.

“Unemployment figures are high, yet nationally there are as many as 600,000 manufacturing jobs that can’t be filled,” says Maria Ferrante, PMMI vice president, education & workforce development. “That disconnect is, in part, a result of gaps between mechanical knowledge and computer savvy. High-paying, highly skilled jobs in the advanced manufacturing space are critical to the success of manufacturers across the country. PMMI’s Mechatronics Certificates help fill the gap, and provide another screening tool for employers.”

“New technological innovation, such as advancements in software and automation, are making a major contribution to increased growth in the manufacturing sector,” says Charles D. Yuska, PMMI president and CEO. “Not confined to production, these technologies are also resulting in a growth in workforce capabilities. What good is manufacturing technology without a skilled workforce to effectively utilize it? Today’s workers must have the operational ability to match ongoing advances.

“Why not start at school?” asks Yuska. “Collaboration with existing organizations that are equipped to educate, such as the colleges and universities, is one way to target younger, skilled labor. Providing basic manufacturing training is a vital step towards advanced training on the factory floor.”