NCC recognizes Black History Month, profiles NIMS Executive Director Montez King

February 22, 2021

Montez King, executive director of NIMS, the nationally-recognized organization responsible for developing national standards and competency-based credentials in manufacturing trades,

knows a bit about hardship and determination.  His early years were spent on the streets of Baltimore City where a “career” as drug dealer was more lucrative than school and work.  A chance encounter with an instructor at his sister’s trade school open house changed that path.  Montez was introduced to an opportunity he didn’t know existed. “The shop machines, even the smell were alluring,” he said.  The instructor also piqued his interest: “You could make some serious money after just a few months of training.”  And his promise – a guaranteed job when you turn 16 – sealed the deal.

Montez set out to do whatever it would take to become a machinist!  Long days, multiple part-time jobs, and bullying on the job did not stymie his resolve to learn all he could to fulfill his part of the deal.  Another influencer, an HR director, offered another revelation – he could start a bank account and a get small load credit card.  After one year on the job, Montez had saved $10,000!  (At 19, he had his own house built!)

Apprenticeship training at the local community college gave him the “paper to prove” he could succeed in a world emphasizing college over skills training.  His ideas now gained respect and exposure. Over the years he applied everything he learned to achieve positions of increasing responsibility.

But he never forgot the power of a mentor and role model.  He never forgot his own early experience.

While now the Executive Director of a nationally-recognized organization, Montez spends lots of time in the communities that mimic his childhood neighborhood with kids he can relate to because he lived that life.  His message to them echoes his mentor’s: “The reality is I could take you out of poverty and into a middle class job in six months.”

“Everything we touch is connected to manufacturing.  With developments in technology, the workforce is changing rapidly,” Montez noted.  He cited statistics that report that half of today’s jobs – “middle skills jobs” — require more than high school but less than a college degree. Most offer family wages and, often, benefits. Montez added, “Technology makes training easier, faster and more accessible for those in-demand jobs, making it quicker and easier to master skills.  Machinist training opens the door to a broad range of career opportunities: programmer, quality control, sales or repair of machines, an instructor, a manager or owner of a machine shop and more, as my own career demonstrates.”