The future of U.S. manufacturing hinges upon the ability of metalworking companies to employ the appropriate metalworking technology and processes and, more importantly, to attract trained individuals to operate the machine tools used in production. The American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association (AMTDA), representing nearly 500 providers of metalworking products and services, is involved in several initiatives to support these areas of importance for machine shops nationwide.
In 1993, the AMTDA instituted a certification program for machine tool sales engineers committed to improving the skills, professionalism and proficiency of individuals involved in proposing machine and process solutions to metalworking equipment users. Since its introduction, the Certified Machine Tool Sales Engineer (CMTSE) program has attracted and educated more than 1,000 individuals from more than 200 machine tool distributor and builder companies throughout the United States. The AMTDA is also a member organization supporting the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS), formed in 1995 to develop a skilled work force for manufacturing companies.
The CMTSE program’s development and introduction was in response to surveys showing that machine tool users perceived a need for better sales and technical expertise from machine tool sales engineers. The AMTDA provides eligible applicants with a comprehensive two-volume Candidate Study Guide addressing the multi-disciplinary topics covered in the CMTSE examination. The Candidate Study Guides, which were developed as a resource for machine tool sales engineers, are constantly updated to reflect changes in technology.
According to David Hayes, product manager with Haas Automation and a member of the AMTDA Certification Committee, “While the examination may be the focal point of certification, it is but one step in a process that begins with potential CMTSEs broadening their experience and studying a wide range of subjects. Our customers benefit from the CMTSE program because certified sales engineers have a proven level of knowledge in machine tool technology, as well as sales and administration skills.”
On the user end of the spectrum, AMTDA's interest and involvement in NIMS is twofold: to ensure the success of U.S. manufacturing through development of a qualified workforce and through better educated consumers of machine tools and to effectively utilize the most productive and innovative technology available through distributors. NIMS was created by a consortium of allied metalworking trade associations, national labor organizations, a council of state governors, companies and educators. The goals of NIMS include developing, writing, validating and maintaining skill standards for the metalworking industry; certifying the skills of individuals against the skill standards through performance and written assessments; certifying programs that train to the skill standards and assisting states, schools and companies in forming partnerships to implement the skill standards and accredit students and workers.
George Crossland, a CMTSE and president of Crossland Machinery (Kansas City, Missouri) is an ardent supporter of the NIMS standards initiatives. Mr. Crossland, who serves on the Advisory Board for the Metropolitan Community Colleges Business and Technical Center in Missouri, participates on NIMS audit teams to certify school and workplace education and training programs to NIMS standards. As an AMTDA member, Mr. Crossland is committed to improving the pool of workers for his manufacturing customers. "I became personally involved with NIMS because I'm tired of hearing the complaint from the customer base that education doesn't listen to or address the needs of industry. It's important for educators to have industry advisory boards to be in touch with employers. Through the adoption of NIMS standards by training institutions, you can be assured that credentialed individuals can perform any variety of functions to the appropriate specifications. Also, advanced levels of training are available."
To date, 297 institutions in 33 states have applied to become NIMS certified training programs. Fifty-seven are certified and 17 are pending evaluations. Visit www.nims-skills.org for more information on NIMS and www.amtda.org for more information on the CMTSE program.