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  1. #1
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    Default Any quality machinist left?

    I live in NW Louisiana,we have been looking for a machinist for a year now with no luck.We spent $$$ on online and paper adds and only got two to apply.The first guy didn't wanna work for us because our shop isn't climate controlled.The second guy was hired as a journeyman top notch machinist,he started at $2.00 less than I make.

    First thing I noticed when he unloaded his tool box was all he had was some old sockets a claw hammer and a few screw drivers,NOT ONE mic or indicator.
    OK..maybe he got in a pinch and had to sell his tools so I just assumed he just needed to get back on his feet so I told him I'd be glad to lend him what he needed.Rather than bash the guy and waste forum space lets just say after a few days when I set him up on a lathe with a 4 jaw that he had no idea how to indicate in he was out.He admitted to the owner then he BSed his way in to get the job.

    My point to this post is that it seems in my area any way that there aren't many manual machinist left.And with the current pay scales no young blood wonts to get their hands dirty to learn the trade and work their way up,everyone seems to wanna push a green button these days.CNC has it's place but they can't replace a manual lathe or mill in a job shop that does repair work.The cost of a CNC lathe big enough to handle a 10" dia by 15' long shaft that just needs a bearing fit,threads chased or seal area repaired isn't cost effective for that job as an example.

    Seems to me owners sooner or later are gonna have to up the pay scale to attract good workers into the field or there is gonna be a serious shortage of qualified job shop machinist to man the shop after my generation retires.For the last 15 years company's took advantage of a flooded labor market,now that same labor pool has dried up because junior watched his dad work his butt off for a low wage compared to other trades that take years to learn and don't want any part of it...just my honest opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IronReb View Post
    Seems to me owners sooner or later are gonna have to up the pay scale to attract good workers into the field or there is gonna be a serious shortage of qualified job shop machinist to man the shop after my generation retires.

    I hope you're right. At 49, I don't know if I will see it in my working years though.

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    I think I would have fired him the minute I saw a claw hammer in his tool box.

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    You are right about the pay scale. Supply and demand. The market will self correct if there is a need, or it should anyway.

    Look at agriculture. Here in the Midwest, no one wanted to be a farmer when I was a kid. Crop prices were low, land prices were high, guys just barely got by.

    Today the crop prices are at record highs. Land prices are still high. The guys who made it through the last rut are millionaires now. Guys my age are wishing we could get into it.

    Just like with manufacturing, technology has irreversibly changed the game. One guy can now handle hundreds, even thousand of acres with only a few seasonal employees. That large of a farm may have taken dozens of full time workers with hundreds of pieces of machinery 50 years ago. We no longer need half of the US population involved in agriculture to meet the demands for food.

    We less and less need skilled workers who can set up a harvesting machine for maximum yield, or follow a dead straight line with a planter. The machines are becoming automated and self guided.

    Eb and flow I suppose. The only thing that changes is how quickly things change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IronReb View Post
    I live in NW Louisiana,we have been looking for a machinist for a year now with no luck.We spent $$$ on online and paper adds and only got two to apply.The first guy didn't wanna work for us because our shop isn't climate controlled.The second guy was hired as a journeyman top notch machinist,he started at $2.00 less than I make.

    First thing I noticed when he unloaded his tool box was all he had was some old sockets a claw hammer and a few screw drivers,NOT ONE mic or indicator.
    OK..maybe he got in a pinch and had to sell his tools so I just assumed he just needed to get back on his feet so I told him I'd be glad to lend him what he needed.Rather than bash the guy and waste forum space lets just say after a few days when I set him up on a lathe with a 4 jaw that he had no idea how to indicate in he was out.He admitted to the owner then he BSed his way in to get the job.

    My point to this post is that it seems in my area any way that there aren't many manual machinist left.And with the current pay scales no young blood wonts to get their hands dirty to learn the trade and work their way up,everyone seems to wanna push a green button these days.CNC has it's place but they can't replace a manual lathe or mill in a job shop that does repair work.The cost of a CNC lathe big enough to handle a 10" dia by 15' long shaft that just needs a bearing fit,threads chased or seal area repaired isn't cost effective for that job as an example.

    Seems to me owners sooner or later are gonna have to up the pay scale to attract good workers into the field or there is gonna be a serious shortage of qualified job shop machinist to man the shop after my generation retires.For the last 15 years company's took advantage of a flooded labor market,now that same labor pool has dried up because junior watched his dad work his butt off for a low wage compared to other trades that take years to learn and don't want any part of it...just my honest opinion.
    I think you've answered your own question. Quality machinists can't afford to work for what shops can afford to pay. Other trades are facing the same problem. Something's out of whack.

    There are still a few good ones out there who do it because it's what they are, not because it's the most profitable . I hope you find one and give him what he lives for.

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    Money has a lot to do with the problem. I started machining in 1978. It was 1998 before I started making good money at machining. That was $18.00/hr to program for 3 mills. Here we are 13 years later and I make $25.00/hr programming for 13 mills and tech support for the whole shop. I made more back then. When kids research pay for jobs, machining falls short compared to many less physically demanding or knowledge intensive vocations. I love what I do and would not change if I could go back. My first 20years was in manual and I worked with some really good machinists, but the age of cnc has taken over, not to mention that manufacturing in our country is disappearing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aerodark View Post
    I hope you're right. At 49, I don't know if I will see it in my working years though.

    The only problem is, shop owners shop rates haven't been able to go up for about the last 25 years because of every "tom, dick, and harry" undercutting each other. At least around here. Any industrial park in these parts has at least 4 machine shops in them, and these industrial parks are around every 4-8 miles apart. Not to mention all the people that have small machines in their garages who are tickled pink to make 30 bucks an hour.

    Not saying it can't go up, but it ain't gonna go up enough, in my opinion.

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    Sure, money, but you might also be in a area that just never supported a lot of machinists, so there's nobody local enough to respond to your ads.

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    Any quality unemployed machinists left?



    Slim to none.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conrad Hoffman View Post
    Sure, money, but you might also be in a area that just never supported a lot of machinists, so there's nobody local enough to respond to your ads.
    This area is heavy into oil field,home to the first off shore oil rig.

    When the oil field business went bust there were a LOT of machinist willing to work for chump change to feed their family.Oil field business is booming again along with other industry,just no one left that can pass a drug test or willing to work his arse off left i suppose.The good machinist who show to work on time and do good work are happy were they are.No incentive these days to look else were.

    Like myself,I'm not gonna leave were I'm at and give up vacation time for a dollar or two.I for see in the future that a new company is gonna have to offer at least 3 bucks more than what the average pay scale is now to attract first rate machinist.

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    Aerospace has been that way too. Boom and bust, in five to ten-year cycles. The last one of the upswings brought non union wages to living wage level. The downturn has seen a lot of machinists working in that industry struggle and move on. I speak from experience.

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    Thumbs up

    Have you tried calling TSTC in Marshall, Texas? They have a machining program there, and I'm sure those graduates are young, and ready to go to work. I myself was going to go to school there and learn the trade, but instead just started buying tools and went to work for a completely manual shop. I would give the instructor of the machining program a call and see when he will have new graduates ready for work. His name is Mr. Wayne Dillon, and his e-mail is [email protected], and the Machining office's number is (903) 923-3303. All this is off their website, Texas State Technical College Marshall Home Page. Good luck to you sir.

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    Default Good old machinist

    Here in Alabama our poor ass state will give as much as $1 billion to get a large foreign manufacturer to set up in our here. Take a 25 year old with talent and tell him if he does every thing right he can be making top money in 15 years. He'll tell you that in a few years more he can retire from Honda. I have had a couple of young guys take a $3-4 cut in pay to work for a company that they see as having a future. Honda canned one for his drug test.
    The older (the ones honda will not hire) good machinist are dying off faster that the very few coming along to replace them. The older, good craftmen I know would not work in automotive on a bet.
    Besides why worry about learning more than a surgeon knows when you can just push the magic green button and call yourself a machinist.
    Mike

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    Manual machinist:

    Negatives:

    Relatively low pay.

    Long learning curve.

    Large initial expense for tooling. Most "professionals" don't have to show up the first day with anything. You think a dentil hygienist brings their own tools to the job?

    Working in non-climate controlled sweat shops (Louisiana?! ! Oh my !)
    I was dripping beads of sweat yesterday in my garage shop, and I just do this for fun ! Consider that clerical/administrative work pays 15 - 20 $ per hour and you're sitting in air conditioned comfort...

    Un-glamorous reputation.


    Positives:

    ??????

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  21. #15
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    The only problem is, shop owners shop rates haven't been able to go up for about the last 25 years because of every "tom, dick, and harry" undercutting each other.
    THIS is the part that employees do-not-get.
    I get really tired hearing machinists complain that the shop owners need to up the pay scale when the problem is CUSTOMERS WILL NOT PAY MORE.
    They 'demand' LOWER prices, BETTER quality, and FASTER delivery as well.

    I know there are some shop owners out there that make a fantastic living on the backs of their hired help, and flaunt their money in the face of their 'under paid' employees.
    That is a different story.......

    I think there are many shops out there are just getting by, quoting as low as possible, running on a bare bones budget, and paying the help as much as they can, while operating costs, insurance, taxes, utilities, etc. are increasing faster than ever.
    In those cases, it's a tough situation, and the 'underpaid' machinist might decide he can do better for himself......and starts a small shop in his garage of basement......

    ........after he quickly finds out just what the playing field requires, he's quoting low, and maybe making -as much- money as he was when he worked as an employee. Meanwhile, it makes it a notch or two tougher for all the other shops in the area, and......

    .....the race to the bottom continues.


    In my area, we had an insurgence of machine shops start up in the late 1970's - mid 1980's.
    Maybe about 7-8 of then including my own in a 5-10 year period.
    Since that time.....25-30 years later......I think there have been about 5 more that have started up in a 25 year period. There are too many job and fab shops in this small area right now.
    I do not see any more starting up and I do not (hardly)get any phone calls anymore in the last 3-4 years from people looking for work as machinists or welders.


    dk
    Last edited by dkmc; 05-31-2011 at 08:02 AM. Reason: sp

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    I agree with the issues of finding good machinist. I started out in Wisconsin serving an apprenticeship. Been doing this for almost 20 years now. I started out with only Manual machines. I am now in Albuquerque,NM and have found the pool of machinist here is very low. The local college only teaches the new people to be an operator. Hit the green button and go. Everyone that I have interviewed can barely do a setup. It seems that unless you can hold a part in a vise or 3 jaw chuck that there is no other way to do it. It is very frustrating. I have considered moving back up north for this reason. I am a supervisor and we do both cnc and manual here. I do enjoy training people, but today's so called machinist just seem to want to show up and collect a paycheck and that is all. I think alot of the problem is that these local schools tell these newbe's that they will make X amount of money in this field and they expect to be making that right off the top. I am currently looking for someone now and it has not been easy. I had a person within the past year that could not even sharpen a drillbit or run a manual machine.

    Rob

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    Quote Originally Posted by IronReb View Post

    Seems to me owners sooner or later are gonna have to up the pay scale to attract good workers into the field or there is gonna be a serious shortage of qualified job shop machinist to man the shop after my generation retires.For the last 15 years company's took advantage of a flooded labor market,now that same labor pool has dried up because junior watched his dad work his butt off for a low wage compared to other trades that take years to learn and don't want any part of it...just my honest opinion.
    I'm sorta gambling on this happening.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedBaron View Post

    Working in non-climate controlled sweat shops (Louisiana?! ! Oh my !)
    I have to agree on that one reason alone. This is 2011, not 1911. Sometimes shops have to invest a little capital once in awhile to improve working conditions if they want to keep or attract good employees. I can only imagine what condition the machines are in. Maybe the guy thought he needed the claw hammer to build some wooden floor pads so he wouldn’t have to stand on the dirt floor. Seriously, good machinist are hard to find even for the best of working conditions and that hasn’t changed since I started many years ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkmc View Post
    THIS is the part that employees do-not-get.
    I get really tired hearing machinists complain that the shop owners need to up the pay scale when the problem is CUSTOMERS WILL NOT PAY MORE.
    They 'demand' LOWER prices, BETTER quality, and FASTER delivery as well.
    dk
    It's not so much that they 'don't get it'....by definition a (real) machinist is smarter than the average critter (IMHE), understands that the market 'is' what the market 'is', and moves on to other trades in life (assuming they aren't too heavily invested in time and tooling as a machinist to make the change).

    I've made the jump out of manufacturing several times in my career, but it keeps dragging me back in (love is cruel!).....I'll probably spend the rest of my working life in the trade, in spite of stagnating wages (freely acknowledging it ain't always the boss's fault) and declining opportunities. If my son (9 y.o. now) comes to me in 10 years and tells me he wants to be a machinist for a career, and the market is the same as it is right now, I won't discourage him, but I'll be sure to make sure he's explored other, better opportunities first. Sure, I'd be thrilled to death if he wants to follow in dear ol' dad's footsteps, but at the same time, I'd like to see my son live a better life than I have outside of his employment.

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    In this area anyone worth having is either:

    A) Making a butt load of money for his employer that realizes his worth.

    B) Has his own shop.

    You might find someone new in town. As soon as he learns his way around they go to a bigger shop with more pay & benefits.

    Get a young guy to come in and learn the trade. As soon as he is confident and capable enough, he goes to the big shop for more pay & benefits.
    ( You just trained your competition).

    Most young guys don't want to get dirty. 25 years ago ,you would see high school kids driving around in a car with a lumpy cam in it. Maybe some primer on the body. They were proud that they were working on it themselves.

    Today most can't check the oil or change a flat tire. They want loud stereos & flashing neon lights underneath.< ( There are exceptions).

    JAckal


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