METALFORM EDU the Backbone for NASG Apprenticeship Program

September 26, 2022

At NASG Tennessee 2, the corporate headquarters of North American Stamping Group in Portland, TN, 300 associates serve the automotive market via stamping, tool build and repair, welding, CNC wire and tube bending, and assembly. In 2021, following the pandemic shutdown, many seasoned press operators did not return. At the same time, to break from the traditional method of new operators receiving training from current operators—made difficult due to an operator shortage and also bringing the possibility of new operators learning some bad habits—NASG set about creating a press-operator apprenticeship program. 

Ideal Addition to Get the Program Running

1-metalform-edu-NASG-classroom“I had a curriculum for tool and die apprentices, as I’m experienced in that field and have run the apprenticeship program for several years, but I had no material for teaching press operation,” recalls Larry Dickens, NASG training manager. “We had used PMA’s press-operator CD-ROMs in years past. We’d heard about METALFORM EDU, and then previewed it. It had what I was looking for to add to the training that we already had planned on doing inhouse. METALFORM EDU now forms the backbone of our apprenticeship program.”

The 1-yr. press-operator apprenticeship program at NASG includes a 1-yr. U.S. Department of Labor stamping press operator certificate program that matches with three National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) certificates, with the METALFORM EDU press-operator curriculum comprising the main part of the training.

NASG has 16 employees in press-operator apprenticeship training using METALFORM EDU—eight in the first training program that began in January 2022, and eight more who started on August 1. They follow an outline of classes found in the METALFORM EDU Press Technician 1, Press Technician 2, Press Technician 3, Die Setter Training Level 1 and Die Setter Level 2 learning paths.

“In addition, we have chosen many more classes from the METALFORM EDU full library,” Dickens says. “These include math, print reading, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, soft skills, measurement skills, and problem-solving. We use 100 METALFORM EDU courses in our training program.”

Effective Beyond Apprenticeship Program

2-metalform-edu-nasg-shop-floorGraduates of the NASG apprenticeship program earn the title of certified press operator and a pay bump. NASG has purchased and used 92 individual licenses, according to Dickens, and will order more to train existing operators and improve their knowledge and pay. Dickens and NASG supplement the courses with training taught by inhouse and equipment-suppler subject-matter experts to familiarize students with NASG-specific processes and equipment.

“We began using METALFORM EDU in October 2021 following a free trial to ensure that the courses met our needs,” Dickens reports. “We used this material to expose mentors, team and group leaders, and production managers to what the new press-operator apprentices would be learning to better assist students as they progressed through the program.”

3-metalform-edu-nasg-shop-floorNASG provides this training to others as they progress or transfer to mentor and leader positions on the shop floor. And, current operators not in the apprenticeship program and identified by management are given the opportunity to upscale and earn pay raises by taking apprenticeship courses.

To evaluate apprenticeship and upscale candidates, NASG and Dickens also use METALFORM EDU’s Occupational Aptitude and Knowledge Assessment (OAKA) tests.

“OAKA helps us accurately identify skill levels,” Dickens says. 

Eight months into the first NASG 1-yr. apprenticeship program, how does Dickens evaluate METALFORM EDU?

“We don’t have measurement data, but I can tell you that each of our apprentices is assigned to and runs a press full time, and has begun to make a difference on the shop floor,” he says. “We think that METALFORM EDU combined with the other apprenticeship training has created the consistency we were missing in our previous training methods. One possible result of METALFORM EDU courses: All apprentices scored in the upper-80s to the mid-90s on our last NIMS test. And, where METALFORM EDU requires a 70-percent course grade to pass, I require 80 percent and above. Most of our students shoot for 100 percent.”

NASG and Dickens plan continued use of METALFORM EDU in the press-operator apprenticeship program, along with widespread use of OAKA tests for onboarding and new-hire evaluation.

Industry-Related Terms: Bending, CNC, Die, Run, Transfer
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Precision Metalforming Association

Technologies: Training


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