Eighty-percent of manufacturers in the United States report that they have trouble finding the skilled employees they need. Employers searching for qualified applicants translate into incredible career opportunities for those with in-demand skills validated by industry credentials. The Virginia Council on Advanced Technology Skills (VCATS) has developed an industry certification system for meeting the cutting-edge requirements of existing and emerging employers in advanced technology fields, such as pharmaceutical, biotech and biomedical, chemical, advanced materials, plastics, semiconductor manufacturing and more. VCATS helps meet Virginia’s present and future needs for skilled technical workers by setting the standard for success in industry.
VCATS Technical Skills
- Math and Measurement - Evaluate basic algebraic expressions; utilize industry tools to accurately measure critical process variables; apply mathematical formulas to convert units and develop mathematical relationships to solve for one unknown; and, utilize process data to generate charts and graphs.
- Spatial Reasoning and Manufacturing Technology - Applied technology principals that support the manufacturing process.
- Quality and Business Acumen - Develop a lean culture in manufacturing; apply a scientific problem solving method in addressing constraints in manufacturing; and, identify continuous improvement opportunities leading to bottom-line savings.
VCATS Soft Skills
The Virginia Council on Advanced Technology Skills (VCATS) soft skills assessment provides feedback on individuals’ soft skills as required by industry to support a lean manufacturing culture. Effective interpersonal skills are essential when developing a flexible team environment in the workplace. The six critical soft skills assessed are:
- Teamwork - Maintaining a positive attitude toward others and working cooperatively as part of a team.
- Energy/Drive - Work pace, quickness of action, and stamina applied to work tasks on a regular basis.
- Work Composure - Responding objectively to criticism and conflict without becoming defensive as well as the ability to recover from troubled situations without blaming others for mistakes.
- Initiative - The ability to take ownership of one’s work and handle job responsibilities with a minimum of direction and/or supervision.
- Communication Skills - The ability to articulate one’s thoughts and ideas in an easily understood manner to both individuals and groups.
- Attention to Detail - The ability to focus on detailed aspects of assignments in order to ensure overall quality of work.
The VCATS Manufacturing Technician and Specialist Certifications were developed to meet the growing employment demands of the manufacturing industry and includes three areas of competency:
- Math and Measurement
- Quality & Business Acumen
- Spatial Reasoning & Manufacturing Technology
Each of the three competency areas has a corresponding VCATS assessment. Students successfully passing the Math and Measurement and the Spatial Reasoning and Manufacturing Technology assessments will result in MS certification. Passing all three assessments will result in MT certification. VCATS MS and MT certifications validate that a student has the necessary skills for careers in advanced technology industries such as manufacturing, health care technology, robotics, and biotechnology.
The VCATS assessment tool has been third-party validated for its accuracy in measuring 12 critical technical skills: algebra; measurement; math for quality; spatial reasoning; mechanics; fluid power and thermodynamics; electricity; chemistry; manufacturing processes and controls; quality and lean manufacturing; statistical process control (SPC); and business acumen.
ECPI’s manufacturing technician training provides the knowledge and skills required to pass the VCATS assessment to become recognized as either a Manufacturing Specialist (MS) or Manufacturing Technician (MT), which are both recognized by manufacturing companies and other advanced technology industries. A unique component of the training program is that it also includes a module on soft skills development such as teamwork and workplace behaviors.
VCATS Assessment Centers
VCATS Certified Assessment Centers provide access to the VMA workforce development resources and help to establish a training and assessment network for certifying advanced technology skills. VCATS Certified Assessment Centers offer assessments, training, certification and/or certificates in the following areas: Behavioral Assessment (Soft Skills), Certified Industrial Energy Auditor, Manufacturing Specialist, Manufacturing Technician Level 1, Contractor Safety and World Class Manufacturing (productivity improvement/lean).
- ECPI University – Newport News
- ECPI University – Northern Virginia
- ECPI University – Richmond/West End
- ECPI University – Richmond/Southside
- ECPI University – Skyline College (Roanoke)
- ECPI University – Virginia Beach
- Southern Virginia Higher Education Center
- Virginia Technical Institute
Other Assessments and Certifications
Access to talented individuals with a high-quality education and advanced skills is critical to manufacturers’ capacity for innovation and business success. Companies continue to report they cannot find individuals with the skills required for today’s advanced manufacturing workplaces. The technology infusion and high productivity that dominate the advanced manufacturing landscape demand a smart, safe, and sustainable manufacturing workforce. The Manufacturing Institute responded by creating the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System to directly address the deficits in manufacturing education and training, which are limiting the pool of qualified candidates for high-quality manufacturing jobs. For more information, please visit the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System site.