How Manufacturers Beyond Machining Are Addressing the Skills Challenge

The need for talent in manufacturing is a challenge extending beyond just machining, and manufacturers in other sectors are finding solutions that machine shops might be able to learn from.


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For Gardner Business Media­, publisher of Modern Machine Shop and other brands related to manufacturing, workforce development is the overriding theme so far in 2019. We recently addressed the topic with an article about a machining business employing emotional intelligence as a means to attract and train staff. Here’s a video that takes a look at the culture change in that business through the words and perspectives of its team members. In the fields of moldmaking, additive manufacturing, composites, finishing and plastics, here are other ways the pursuit of manufacturing talent is advancing.


Along with working with Modern Machine Shop to cover training at mold builder Westminster Tool, sister publication MoldMaking Technology also recently wrote about three mold manufacturing companies that share how their workforce development strategies have evolved to meet the needs of today’s industry. In other words, today’s workforce needs more than metalworking skills to thrive.

Another article features an Austrian moldmaker that offers its employees more than a normal job by creating a unique company culture. This culture is supported through recreational activities, employee incentives, education and training.

Additive Manufacturing

Penn State University has one of the first graduate degree programs in additive manufacturing. The program draws on both manufacturing and design, because of the way these functions are interrelated in AM. The article profiling this program includes links to video interviews with students pursuing this degree.


In the last decade, several universities have established composites R&D labs, which are producing graduates focused on composites. The M.C. Gill Composites Center at the University of Southern California is an example, combining a devoted educator, an alumnus resource and a growing crop of students who are doing substantial, practical research aimed at evolving both materials and processes in composites.


Finishers are working to get shop personnel certified through coursework (as Certified Electroplater Finishers) in order to deepen their connection to the industry, in hopes of keeping these talented people and attracting more like them.

Another article addresses military training. The finishing industry has launched a program in partnership with Workshops for Warriors to train those leaving military service to work in the coatings industry.


By creating their own apprenticeship programs or tapping into newly formed apprentice systems, plastics processors are taking their future workforce needs into their own hands. Examples include an injection molder that established its own academy as well as another molder replicating a Swiss-styled training system created by a former molder. The way forward is seen in part through the journey two high schoolers have taken on the path to advanced manufacturing.


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