The Value of a Piece of Paper

As the country struggles to emerge from the recession, we still grapple with a deficit of qualified manufacturing workers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 200,000 manufacturing positions needed to be filled in April 2011…and that number hasn’t really changed.

With unemployment still hovering around 7.5%, why are there still so many jobs vacant? Part of the reason is a lack of qualified applicants. So how do you set yourself apart from everyone else and prove on a resume that you have the ability to do the job, and do it well?

One of the ways is getting a degree, certification, or accreditation that tells the potential employer that you have been endorsed by the certifying body. An independent organization has given you the stamp of approval. Apprenticeship remains a well-founded tradition of gaining knowledge and skills, but the value of a certification cannot be underestimated.

While I know I’m biased when I say my dad is brilliant, he really is. He has a knack for mechanical things and can usually fix anything with a motor by just studying it for a few minutes. What my dad doesn’t have is a certification in the United States declaring him a master machinist…he doesn’t even have a high school diploma. He graduated from a vocational school in Spain but that means nothing here in the U.S.

Sure, my dad is a valued employee at the firm he is at today but during the mid 90s, it was really hard for him to even get an interview—let alone a job—because he doesn’t have that piece of paper certifying him as a master machinist.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) is a market research firm that wrote a white paper on the benefits of certification. According to the white paper, people with a certification are more employable: “63% of hiring managers believe certified individuals are more productive than their non-certified counterparts.” People with a certification also earn more: “43% of individuals got a pay raise after gaining their certification.” If that’s not enough, consider job security. When manufacturing companies have to reduce staff, they are more likely to keep the certified welders and lay off those welders that do not have their certification.

As the job market continues to demand qualified individuals, consider the value of that piece of paper and the positive impact it can have on your career.

Judy Manso

One thought on “The Value of a Piece of Paper”

  1. Judy,

    I agree with your comments but there is a problem regarding Thermal Spray, now part of AWS. There is no certification program!!! The AWS is working on this but needs help. I will be talking about this at FABTECH (Thermal Spray Sessions) in Chicago and welcome any input.

    There is one thing coming up that I will be discussing and that could have significant impact on the need for certification. This is ISO 55000 (asset management) which is scheduled for approval and release in February. In this standard, competence is emphasized (ie certification). If the big guys such as GE, P&W, Boeing, UAL, Delta, etc. seek ISO cerification, they will proabaly require certification of operators.

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