How the Need for Skilled Labor Affects the Future of Metalworking

By: Meaghan Ziemba, Content Marketing Manager, Advanced Machine & Engineering

Metalcut circular carbide billet saw - Advanced Machine & EngineeringThe state of manufacturing in the United States is on the rise, and for those of us in metalworking, there are several key challenges and trends we need to be aware of.

Trade and Industry Development contributing writer, Woody Hydrick, touches on five of these challenges and trends the industry needs to be aware of in his December 2017 article, “Location Trends in Metalworking.”

  1. The growth of Industry 4.0, or the Internet of Things (IoT).
  2. An acute need for skilled/trained labor.
  3. Increased global competitiveness in terms of pricing.
  4. Reliance on electricity and tighter environmental regulations.
  5. New infrastructure needs that require metalworking.

As the number of manufacturing job opportunities increase, Advanced Machine and Engineering (AME) has felt the same pressure other American manufacturers are currently experiencing—the lack of skill sets among the next generation of machinists. In an attempt to close this manufacturing skills gap, we’ve developed an apprenticeship program to help train our own.

Throughout the course of the apprenticeship program, students complete 8,000 hours of manufacturing training in parallel to schooling at Rock Valley College. Participants learn various skills associated with metalworking including GD&T, CNC programming, materials sciences, feeds and speeds; and milling, drilling, and turning processes.

The program involves 11 other companies in the Rockford area and 100 percent of the graduates are offered positions as soon as they complete the requirements; however, as Hydrick points out in his article, the volume of qualified workers needed to fill the gap still falls short.

Developing apprenticeship programs is one way to generate interest in manufacturing from younger generations, but how else can manufacturing companies gain their attention to help boost the volume of qualified workers needed to fill the gap?

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