Pilot program to train ex-soldiers for manufacturing jobs

The Detroit News

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers said Monday it is working with the U.S. Army to certify military personnel for civilian manufacturing jobs.

Under the pilot program, the Dearborn-based group is helping the Army get service members in highly specialized and technical engineering fields industry-recognized credentials that could assist them in landing manufacturing jobs after they leave the military, according to a Society of Manufacturing Engineers statement.

“We know that military personnel have solid skills with good work ethics, and have much to offer employers,” Society of Manufacturing Engineers Executive Director and CEO Mark C. Tomlinson said. “With SME certifications in hand, they will also have industry credentials manufacturers are familiar with — making it easier for vets to move into the civilian job market.”

There are 600,000 manufacturing job openings across the nation, according to the society, and up to 1 million military personnel will be returning to civilian life in the next five years.

The pilot program is an outgrowth of the effort announced in June by President Barack Obama to get 500,000 workers with National Association of Manufacturing-endorsed certifications during the next five years.

Part of the effort includes having the Army’s engineering school conduct a one-year pilot program to assess how well engineer and warrant officers meet the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ Certified Manufacturing Technologist or Lean Bronze Certification credentials. The first group of soldiers began Monday a six-week program at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., after which they will take the certification exams, according to the engineering group.

“Our numbers are not going to be huge, but they will be impactful,” said Pam Hurt, the society’s head of government affairs.

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