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NIMS hosts DOL Secretary, recognizes its first U.S. Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program

Sept. 30, 2020
The National Institute for Metalworking Skills hosted Eugene Scalia, who was on hand for the official signing ceremony of its selection as one of the 18 Standards Recognition Entities for IRAPs.

NIMS (National Institute for Metalworking Skills) hosted Eugene Scalia, Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on Sept. 25 for the official signing ceremony of its selection as one of the 18 Standards Recognition Entities (SREs) for Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). Furthermore, NIMS announced the Raytheon Technologies IRAP in precision machining as its first formally recognized program.

Signing ceremony

Montez King, executive director, NIMS and U.S. DOL Secretary, Eugene Scalia. (Source: NIMS)

The vice president of operations for Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Allen Couture attended the signing ceremony alongside Min Huang, one of the Program graduates. "Raytheon’s leadership and operations team recognized several years ago the need to train new machinists in anticipation of our most experienced machinists retiring, as well as to modernize the image of manufacturing as a career," said Couture. "The traditional paths to develop new machinists - vocational education, trades schools, and traditional time-based apprenticeship programs - all take several years to develop a qualified machinist and have not been able to keep the talent pool filled."

Developed in 2018, the apprenticeship program was a collaborative effort between NIMS, legacy Raytheon Company and Richland College in Dallas (now Dallas College). This program was to designed to allow Raytheon to develop rapid talent while its apprentices earn college credit and industry-recognized credentials along the way. Raytheon IRAP apprentices are able to support their families while building careers and helping the industrial base to be skill-ready. To date, two cohorts of apprentices have completed the program, with a third due to start in 2021. Its planned start date was delayed due to COVID restrictions.

The traditional pool of machinist candidates come from recent high school graduates. Given that this pool alone does not provide enough candidates to fill the need, the apprenticeship model is structured to appeal to a range of candidates already in the workforce, by using a self-paced, skill-based IRAP model. This allows Raytheon to reach both recent graduates and candidates that may not be able to afford the cost or time required for a traditional classroom-based training model.

Apprentices spend half of the day at the college and the other half at the facility. They gain real-time, real world machining experience on the shop floor while completing coursework and training towards certification at the college. The goal is to provide a personalized pathway into the machining industry through mix of classroom, online, laboratory and one-on-one training that will allow the apprentices to provide for their family and future.

Partnering with NIMS and Dallas College allows the Raytheon IRAP program to provide nationally recognized credentials for machining skills as the apprentice’s progress through the program. These credentials measure and document an individual’s transferable skill sets for the industry.

Similar to Raytheon, in its role as DOL’s SRE, NIMS will help other organizations ensure that their apprenticeship programs meet government requirements and will also provide a structured framework to ensure results-driven training methods are in place. Through its work on the DOL’s Task Force for Apprenticeships, NIMS helped to develop the concept for a competency-based apprenticeship model to meet the needs of both employers and working learners. The components are modular, scalable and portable throughout industry, the supply chain and education. NIMS SRE focus will be in the areas of its expertise in the manufacturing sector which include Machining, Industrial Technology Maintenance, Dimensional Measurement and Industry 4.0, with new areas coming in 2021. 

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