Manufacturing is not dead. In fact, it’s thriving more than ever before. Between new innovations across countless industries and burgeoning ideas among mankind, it seems as though CNC machining will be around for a long, long time. According to projections, manufacturing jobs are even on the rise. Thus, there’s a sudden increased demand for skilled manufacturing experts.
Primary causes of the increased manufacturing demand
This phenomenon didn’t happen overnight, nor did it occur for no reason. People are smart and businesses are savvy, so they routinely employ CNC experts to design, create, and/or troubleshoot their products. From start to finish, skilled machinists can make a major impact on a wide variety of industry projects. So, the demand for prepared experts has never been higher.
Interestingly, there are at least three reasons for this well-timed explosion in modern manufacturing:
#1. Losing an Older Generation of Machinists
Research shows that more than 2 million people are planning to retire in the coming decade. Many of those people are certified machinists whose skills will be missed.
Meanwhile, CNC machine shops must invest a lot of time and resources into training new workers. So, they’re starting to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of applicants, opportunities, and openings while they still have the chance.
#2. The Adoption of Automation and Technology
These days, nearly half of all companies use automation in some way. That means they’re constantly needing updating robotics and electronic components through precision CNC and micro-machining.
The increased demand for smart manufacturing techniques equals a boost in the fabrication industry, with more opportunities to implement and enhance existing technologies. Thus, a snowball effect occurs that helps both the business sector and the CNC machining industry.
FUN FACT: Manufacturing employment grew by more than 300,000 positions last year alone – the highest this industry has expanded since 1995.
#3. An Expanding Talent Gap
A recent study estimated that there will be around two million unfulfilled CNC manufacturing positions by the year 2028. Meanwhile, they’re saying that the economic impact of those unfilled jobs will reach over $2 trillion.
At the same time, yesterday’s CNC skills won’t cut it in the face of advanced robotics technologies, software, and machinery. However, most colleges and universities don’t offer machining classes, potential machinists must-attend trade school and fight to be taken seriously. It also means an ever-widening skill gap and an increase in the already high demand.
The future of CNC manufacturing
The rapid expansion of the industry has encouraged many companies to develop new manufacturing job roles. Unfortunately, many of those roles remain unfulfilled as the studies prove. There just isn’t enough dedicated talent to close the gap, but that same gap can open up opportunities for people interested in joining the CNC machining industry.
While automated fabrication is likely to stay, well-equipped fabrication companies are poised to grow right alongside robotics, technology, and complicated manufacturing standards. The more complex a part’s geometry, the more of a human touch it needs to guarantee accuracy. Thus, people will not become obsolete in the face of the robotic manufacturing regardless of contrary belief.
Human beings still play a crucial role in product development, manufacturing, and distribution. And they most likely will as long as they’re willing and able to evolve with the times. After all, tech cannot save mankind without mankind using its natural-born skills to stitch it all together.
So, although it’s nearly impossible to predict what the future holds, predictions say that manufacturing jobs will be top-shelf within the next decade. Still, humans and machines must continue to work together if we want our projected future to remain bright.
Co-existing with machines in a high-demand industry
Studies suggest that a well-trained CNC machinist is more likely to get the job they want if they develop these five skills in the coming years:
#1. Technology and Computer Know-How
Future manufacturing experts will need a basic understanding of computer technologies, including how to use it and how to design or fabricate products from the 2D or 3D blueprint. This generally includes CAD and CAM software.
#2. Familiarity with Artificial Intelligence
As modern businesses try to keep up with the Joneses by using advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, CNC machinists must adopt new digital skills to help them work with AI-connected systems, complex data sets, and innovative industries.
#3. Critical Thinking Abilities
Critical thinking is a uniquely human ability, which means it can’t be done by a robotic or artificially-intelligent system. Machinists will, therefore, need troubleshooting skills and a keen sense of self-direction to succeed. It won’t hurt for them to also develop leadership techniques for difficult projects.
#4. Digital/Programming Skills
It will be crucial for machinists to possess acute programming skills for automated robotic technologies. This will include being able to provide feedback or lead the pack as a robotic teaming coordinator (RTC). The idea is to ensure everything works together seamlessly and without inaccuracies.
#5. Adaptability to Rapid Change
Because technology changes at the speed of light, manufacturing techniques and standards might as well. However, that’s one of the most commonly overlooked perks about the job. You must remain on the cutting edge of fabrication methods and tooling to remain relevant.
Of course, skilled machinists will also need to be certified just like they have been in the previous decades. However, someone who constantly immerses themselves in the CNC manufacturing world should be extremely successful in the future of an otherwise unpredictable field.
The final verdict
Many people believe two things about CNC machining: 1) that it’s a boring trade that involves a lot of automation and not much human interaction, and 2) that it’s dying because of robotics and technological advancements. Neither one of those assumptions could be further from the truth. In fact, the modern manufacturing industry is expanding more than it ever has before, with millions of unclaimed jobs just waiting to be filled by experts.