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Press Release

SME Announces Open Nominations for the 2021 Excellence in Manufacturing Training Award

Award Honors the Industry’s Leaders in Workforce Development

SME, the professional association committed to advancing manufacturing and developing a skilled workforce, today announced that nominations are now open for the 2021 SME Excellence in Manufacturing Training Award. The award, established in 2020, honors innovative best practices in training programs focused on building a high-performing incumbent and future workforce.

Rapid adoption of advanced and emerging technology, as well as the ongoing and impending exit of baby boomers and their experience and knowledge from the workforce, requires that manufacturers have access to people skilled in the latest tools, equipment, materials, and processes. Additionally, a highly competitive labor market means that training and upskilling can be key elements of a company’s retention strategy.

SME established the Excellence in Manufacturing Training Award to annually honor manufacturers who implement best practices for reducing the skills gap and for building a high-performance workforce – including training programs that tie directly to the bottom line, defined performance-based competency models, learning solutions aligned with business and job needs, the establishment of formalized training and structured on-the-job training (OJT) programs, and measurement of training programs with modifications as necessary to ensure positive impact.

“It’s vital that companies today recognize the value of investing in their workforce,” said Jeannine Kunz, vice president, Tooling U-SME, the workforce development division of SME. “Through the Excellence in Manufacturing Training Award, we are pleased to spotlight examples of manufacturers who understand the key role of talent in business success, and demonstrate an exceptional commitment and dedication to talent development, recruitment and retention."

The nomination and application period runs from April 26 through June 30, 2021, and is open to all manufacturers.

Each application will be judged on an organization’s demonstration of the following criteria: 

  • Alignment to business strategy
  • Job definition
  • Curriculum (alignment and articulation)
  • Quality of instruction
  • Training infrastructure and continuous improvement
  • Assessment and validation

The winner, to be announced in September, will receive an official award for display, participation in a Tooling U-SME webinar or podcast about their program, and a recognition and publicity program from SME.

For more information and to apply, go to