Daily Struggles of Machining Manufacturing Companies, Finding Qualified Talent in the Metal Manufacturing Industry

16 April

16/4/2018: As a metal manufacturing industry, we are excited to see the big push to bring machining manufacturing companies jobs back to the US with the “re-shoring” and “American made” movements. However, for current business owners, there is a large obstacle in the way of our success. This is the lack of talent to complete these machined parts projects.  Simply put, there is not a large enough qualified labor force to fill the current need. “American machining manufacturing companies already face significant skills shortages and are on pace to have two million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2025. Many of these positions require higher-tech skills to operate and support advanced manufacturing equipment.” Mark Crawford explains in his article, “‘New Collar’ Workers Are the Future of Manufacturing.” In other words, finding qualified talent is going to become even more difficult with the increase in demand. In this article, we dive into why this is happening and what you can do about it.

“Over the last 10 years, I have noticed that the factory populations have become more and more out of balance. There is a heavy concentration of employees with many years of experience at the expert level of their craft. In conjunction with the very few entry-level employees looking to build their careers.  As years go by the expert employees retire, leaving a huge gap in the skill sets available,” describes Vice President and COO, Natalia Sephton. THERE ARE TWO MAIN REASONS WHY THIS IS HAPPENING:
  1. The youth is taught that the manufacturing industry is undesirable & low paying. The industry falls prey to a widespread negative stereotype which causes people to pursue other career paths.
  2.  The lack of available educational opportunities. There are very few trade-schools or community colleges offering courses on the necessary subjects.
Presently, there are a few things you can do to help improve these issues. First and foremost, take part in and support the re-branding initiatives for the manufacturing industry. The government and large companies have recently put a lot of energy into re-branding the machining manufacturing companies industry as something more desirable and respectable. As a matter of fact, Mark Crawford further describes this phenomenon his article, “‘New Collar’ Workers Are the Future of Manufacturing,” by explaining that “these workers represent the “new collar” workforce, which requires more specialized training compared to the traditional “blue collar” assembly job,” assisting in changing the connotations around the industry. Some examples initiatives include Manufacturing Day, Manufacturing Week, and STEM. M&R Engineering as a company makes a point to always support these initiatives and has found the process to not only benefit the industry, but also the local high school students.
Unfortunately, on the issue of educational opportunities, it seems there is less support for change. These highly technical positions, “require workers with more advanced skills—typically one or two years of post-secondary education or training,” states Mark Crawford. This is especially true for specializations, for example, machined parts. However, this training is not readily available. Natalia explains, “I do not see a sufficient effort in the number of available programs to educate machinists. Presently, our two only local options are CMTC and a program at Cerritos College.  We partner with those schools also but their curriculum is very limited and at best you get an entry-level metal manufacturing employee with very limited skills.” In the meantime, M&R Engineering has found a workaround for this issue, an internal apprenticeship program. “Incidentally, since we cannot rely on outside organizations to assist in creating a qualified labor market, we have created our own,” Natalia illustrates. Check out the following video to see what M&R Engineering does for our metal manufacturing apprentices. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=115&v=o7tuB3ZzyOk In conclusion, there are two main ways to help improve the trajectory of the manufacturing industry’s labor market. First, is to get involved with the re-branding initiatives for the industry as a whole. Second, to create an internal training program to assist in the education of the current labor force. We know that creating an internal training program is no small task. If you would like some advice on this subject please contact us by clicking here, and we would be happy to write an article on the topic with some pointers. References:
  1. Crawford, Mark. “‘New Collar’ Workers Are the Future of Manufacturing.” Gray: Engineering, Architecture, and Construction, 21 Mar. 2018, www.gray.com/news/blog/2018/03/21/%E2%80%9Cnew-collar%E2%80%9D-workers-are-the-future-of-manufacturing.