WASHINGTON -The U.S. Labor Department has awarded a $1.9 million grant to the National Institute for Metalworking Skills to update its apprenticeship programs.

The new model will use industry proficiency standards established by the NIMS to provide a consistent credentialing system for metalworking occupations.

"(This) grant will help targeted workers to quickly develop the needed skills and competencies to move up the career ladder of their choice," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.

The grant will allow NIMS to develop curriculum guides for metal forming, machining, tool and die making, and machine building. The guides will deal with required skills, help establish paths to move up or within an occupational area, and ways to move across metalworking occupations, according to the NIMS.

Students enrolled in the program will receive national credentials that can be used by metalworking companies in making recruitment, hiring, training and promotional decisions.