NIMS - A Tool To Benchmark Workforce Knowledge And Skills

The Metalworking Skill Standards initiative led by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) continues to grow in popularity, with companies and schools across the United States adopting the Standards as a tool to benchmark the knowledge and skills of the workforce and students.

The Metalworking Skill Standards initiative led by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) continues to grow in popularity, with companies and schools across the United States adopting the Standards as a tool to benchmark the knowledge and skills of the workforce and students. To date, more than 2,300 NIMS credentials in machining, stamping, metalforming and screw machining have been earned by students and employed machinists.

So What Are Skill Standards?

They are statements that describe what a person should be able to do and must know in order to perform a job duty successfully. Industry developed skill standards are based on the analysis of jobs—the duties people perform in their jobs and the knowledge and skills they use in performing their jobs.

Skill standards for the metalworking industry have been developed and guided by the NIMS, a not-for-profit association formed in 1995. It was formed by a consortium of trade associations, including the Precision Machined Products Association and labor organizations. NIMS has four basic missions:

  1. It is responsible for developing, writing, validating and maintaining skill standards.
  2. It credentials the skill levels of individuals through performance and written assessments.
  3. It certifies training programs that train to the standards and meet NIMS quality requirements.
  4. It assists states, schools and companies in implementing the standards as well as credentialing and program certification.


Three Levels

For the precision machined products industry, students and trainees typically would begin at Level I Machining Skills, advance to Level II through an apprenticeship program or on-the-job training, and reach Level III, considered the journeyman level, with broad experience and knowledge of machine setup and operation.

As an example, the Level II Screw Machining Standard describes the common duties and the knowledge, skills, abilities and related attributes needed by a single or multiple spindle screw machine operator. Level III describes the knowledge and skills a screw machine setup/operator needs to perform well on the job.

At each level, performance and written tests have been developed so that students and trainees can earn credentials. In certain instances, trainees are asked to machine a part to print. Upon successful completion, they then take a written test. In other instances, they are asked to complete a Credentialing Achievement Record (CAR), which serves as a logbook of machine operation successes. When a trainee fully completes the CARs, then he or she can take the corresponding written exam. All of the credentialing exams have been developed by industry committees, have been validated through a nationwide process and emphasize issues that occur on the job.

What about training program certification?

School-based, company-based and inter-firm training programs, such as those sponsored by local PMPA districts at vocational schools, can be certified by NIMS as meeting their quality standards through a rigorous certification process. A training program seeking NIMS certification must complete a self-study and undergo an on-site quality audit. During the on-site audit, the NIMS audit team reviews the training program site, the equipment being used for training students and personnel, and training-related documentation, including curriculum, instructional plans and record keeping.

Why Should I Consider The Metalworking Skill Standards?

Companies, schools, employees and students can all gain benefit from the Metalworking Skill Standards, including:

  • Improving productivity.
  • Reducing costs in finding new employees, including the cost of "bad hires."
  • Assuring customers of a quality workforce.
  • Providing documentation to meet ISO/QS 9000 quality system requirements.
  • Defining career paths for employees.
  • Providing a framework for communicating with schools regarding their metalworking training programs.

For students and employees these standards help:

  • Understand what is required to succeed in the workplace.
  • Increase skill and employability levels.
  • Establish a career path.
  • Provide proof of knowledge and skills.

Visit The PMPA At PMTS

The Precision Machining Technology Show (PMTS), April 26-28, 2001, will provide a unique opportunity for you to review the Metalworking Skill Standards materials and learn more about the recently formed PMPA Educational Foundation. On display at booth number 182 will be the Screw Machining Skill Standards and other materials provided by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, plus information on the work of the PMPA Educational Foundation. Be sure to stop by to learn more about these important industry workforce initiatives.

How Do I Learn More?

For more information about the Metalworking Skill Standards, credentialing and training program certification, contact NIMS at (703) 352-4971, fax (703) 352-4991, or visit www.nims-skills.org.

For information on how to align your training program to the NIMS Machining Level I and Screw Machining Levels II & III Standards, contact Scott Giesler, PMPA Training Director, at (440) 526-0300, fax (440) 526-5803 or email sgiesler@pmpa.org.