WASHINGTON-U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announces a grant of approximately $940,000 to the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) to continue development of an apprenticeship program to meet changing industry needs. The grant is part of a $24.2 million advanced manufacturing training effort under the President Bush's high growth job training initiative-a plan to prepare workers for jobs in America's fastest growing industries.

"Modern metalworking increasingly requires skills and training in advanced technologies," Chao says. "This grant supports the development of new training options to meet industry demands for workers whose skills are continually updated to compete in a global economy."

NIMS plans to use the grant to take its competency-based metalworking apprenticeship system developed through another Department of Labor grant into a new direction, focusing on more flexible training delivered right on the shop floor. The new system will allow for self-paced theory instruction and nationally recognized skills certifications, as well as create a model for meeting the changing training needs of employers and incumbent workers.

"Sustainable and replicable training models are necessary to address the changing needs of this highly innovative sector," Emily Stover DeRocco, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training, says. "This project will help create an industry standard that will fill the pipeline with highly skilled workers prepared to meet the current and future challenges of today's metalworking industry."

NIMS will develop its certification program for internal company trainers and a mentoring certification program. The organization plans to run a pilot at 25 of its consortium companies before offering the new apprenticeship training option to the 6,000 companies that are members of NIMS stakeholder companies.