Leo Reddy has heard the bad news. We all have.

Army officials reportedly may cut as many as 100,000 soldiers over the next decade because of troop withdrawals and automatic spending reductions, also known as sequestration.

That’s in addition to the Army possibly cutting up to 80,000 active duty troops because of budget reductions previously approved by Congress in 2011.

It’ll be an even bigger hit for those asked to leave the ranks, says Leo Reddy, CEO of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council.

But veterans looking for second chances at a personally-rewarding career have hope, Reddy says. He’s seen it. His organization has done it.

Just look at Ohio.

That’s where the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) and its industry-recognized, nationally portable certification programs are creating opportunities for veterans to get the skills they need to access in-demand advanced manufacturing jobs.

“There’s a number of returning vets – quite a high number, actually, because of the end of the Iraq War and the forthcoming end to the Afghanistan engagement – who are now coming out of the service and encountering a lot of difficulties in getting work,” Reddy tells Leo Rommel of Industry Today.

“This is an effort, a special effort, to help them out,” Reddy continues. “Everything is industry driven nowadays, and we want to make sure everyone, including veterans, comes out of our programs with skills in line with what industry is looking for.”

So far, so good, organization officials say.

Approximately 71 percent of veterans who have been awarded MSSC’s Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College have found jobs within 60 days of graduation or have enrolled in college to pursue further studies.

More specifically, more than two dozen veterans have found employment. Some of those, officials say, saw their starting pay rate increase by $2 per hour, just for the aforementioned CPT credential.

“MSSC is proud to play a key role in getting vets into high-wage/high-benefits manufacturing jobs,” Reddy says, adding that the continuously-strengthening manufacturing workforce pipeline in Ohio is now the second highest-ranked state in adopting MSSC industry-recognized, nationally portable credentials.

All of this, no question, is a promising start to the national Get Skills to Work Coalition, which the MSSC is a participant in – a very active contributor, if you will.

Launched in late 2012 under the leadership of GE, Alcoa, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and the Manufacturing Institute, the Coalition links major manufacturers and educators to better prepare and place veterans in long-term industrial careers.

“I was there on Wall Street last October when Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, announced the program, and I thought it was a terrific idea,” Reddy recalls.

Reddy says the program does far more than assist military veterans land on their feet via employment in advanced manufacturing. It also enhances American competitiveness by bolstering the dried-up talent pipeline that has reportedly plagued much of the American manufacturing landscape in recent years.

With an estimated 600,000 open advanced manufacturing jobs across America, Reddy says this program is committed to closing the well-reported skills gap.

“It’s the solution,” he says. “We start with industry-defined standards, based on the work factories do and the skills and knowledge needed to do that work. We then write the curriculum and supply the teacher training, eLearning programs, plus administer the necessary tests and credentials.”

He adds, “It’s also testimony to the skills of the Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, and their teachers. We train instructors, but they obviously have some very talented instructors who accomplish all of this in a compact period of time.”

The Coalition is now conducting a series of pilots to train and credential up to 100,000 vets through the National Association of Manufacturers-endorsed Skills Certification System, Reddy says. Cincinnati State Technical and Community College (CSTCC) was the site of the first pilot, which remains in its early stages.

Officials say Cincinnati State – which combined the National Career Readiness Credential (NCRC) and the CPT certification to properly train veterans – has “tapped into its network of relationships” to enlist the support of approximately 30 manufacturers throughout the region.

Four employers have hired multiple graduates of the Get Skills to Work program, officials say.

“In addition to the industry-led Get Skills to Work initiative, the President came out with a White House Military Credentialing Task Force a little over a year ago, and all of the services looked hard at the various certifications endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers, of which we’re one,” Reddy explains. “Our program at MSSC is one of the best-established industrial certification bodies in the country, and we train and certify people from every population, not just vets.”

He adds, happily, “It’s nice to know we’re making a difference in the lives of the men and women who worked hard to defend our national security, and encouraging that Get Skills to Work is planning projects in Fort Worth, Houston and Indiana. This is just the beginning.”

About the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council
The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) is an industry-led, non-profit training, assessment and certification organization focused on the industry-wide core technical competencies needed by the nation’s front-line production and material handling workers. The nationwide MSSC certifications, based upon industry-defined and federally endorsed national skill standards, offer both entry-level and incumbent workers the opportunity to demonstrate that they have acquired the knowledge and skills increasingly needed in the technology-intensive jobs of the 21st century. MSSC is the only national certification body accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under the International Standards Organization (ISO) quality standard for personnel certification for both manufacturing and logistics.