WASHINGTON--The nation's first voluntary skill standards for manufacturing have been released by the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) and the National Skill Standards Board (NSSB).

During the past 3 years, the NSSB has been developing a voluntary system of skill standards and assessment methods to improve the competitiveness of America's workforce. A subset of the NSSB, the MSSC was charged with developing skill standards for manufacturing industries.

The MSSC's standards cover six concentrations: production; quality assurance; logistics and inventory control; health, safety and environmental assurance; maintenance, installation and repair; and process development. The standards iden-tify best practices for successful manufacturing work and define the skills and knowledge required to perform that work.

"As manufacturers continue to face the challenge of recruiting and retaining a highly skilled workforce, we can confidently look to these skill standards as a tool and a resource for that purpose," says John Rauschenberger, the council's chairman and manager of workforce research at Ford Motor Co.

More than 4,000 manufacturing workers, 700 companies, 300 experts and 30 organizations participated in the development of the standards. The MSSC's next step is to develop assessment and certification programs for manufacturing skills.

For more information on the MSSC standards, call 202-216-2745 or visit www.nacfam.org.