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AMBA signs on for toolmaker apprenticeship certification

By: Rhoda Miel

April 30, 2013

SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — The American Mold Builders Association has signed on to help create a nationally recognized apprenticeship certification that should make it easier for toolmakers to find qualified workers and convince young people that tooling can be a long-term career, not just one job at one shop.

“The apprenticeship certification is a blue collar bachelor’s degree,” said Ryan Pohl, president of Expert Technical Training LLC, the training group that is working with the AMBA on creating a standard program. “This can help [young people] safeguard their skills.”

The AMBA board of directors voted to sign on to the effort just before the association’s annual convention April 24-26 in Schaumburg. The group and Pohl laid out the plans to members during the event.

Expert Tech, based in Comstock Park, Mich., has already helped individual businesses develop apprenticeship programs. There are some certifications recognized by states and federal education groups, but nothing that is an industry standard across the nation. The AMBA effort wants to change that.

The certification program will set up standard training for both mold makers and CNC machinists, Pohl said. Expert Tech will host roundtable discussions by experienced workers in both fields to lay out the specific disciplines each apprenticeship study must cover to ensure that students get real world, transferrable knowledge and skills.

The specialists will be drawn from a mixture of companies representing different regions and working within different end customer industries. A CNC meeting is set for June in Grand Rapids, Mich., and mold makers in July. Expert Tech is rounding up names now for those two groups.

For shop owners, the apprenticeship certification program will provide a solid base to train workers needed to replace an aging mold making employment base. An owner can feel more comfortable knowing a potential worker is capable of doing the work if he or she has received certification.

Young people, meanwhile, can use the certification to build the first steps to a career, Pohl said. Parents and guidance counselors, meanwhile, will feel more comfortable about encouraging a student to follow a path outside of a college classroom.

“If someone hears about this, hears that there’s a degree that they can earn, they’re going to be more open.”