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  1. #41
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    Where are all the Machinist?

    To my preference, they are long gone.

    The fewer of us, the better.

  2. #42
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    Seems to me like the successful shops I'm privy to have highly profitable products or services and offer high pay and benefits to seek out and hold onto the hard working and skilled people they have.

    They also automate where possible and continuously improve processes to avoid hiring more people or creating lower skilled positions.

    IMO machinist is a great career path for the highly skilled, intelligent and motivated. It's a terrible choice for the average joe part loader/handle cranker.

    Trade schools are a joke. I agree 100% with the posts saying trade school hires have a sense of entitlement and are worse than training from zero.

    The thing I'm amazed at currently is the profitability of big old manual junk right now. I've bought some nice bigger manual machines in the past few years on the theory that all these long established big shops are closing up for various reasons including lack of skilled employees at low wages therefore that big old repair type work might just be a "niche" as opposed to on every block. I think I'm right and that is exactly what's happening.

    I can't run $1500 CASH jobs regularly on the CNC's, but a heavy old longbed lathe and a 4" boring mill can do it a few times a month.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by boosted View Post
    All of the concerns about pay and work environment are spot on. I've been saying for nearly a decade that it is not a training issue, it is a retention issue.

    I think the reason there is so little talent to be found in the younger generations is because a huge percentage of the really smart/ambitious folks quickly move into another field.
    Spot on. My father was a fitter/welder. I learned how to do that stuff as a teenager.

    I'd far, far, far rather sit in my air conditioned office writing complex computer programs and going to various locations to live-test them than work for 1/4 the pay in a hot, dirty, dangerous environment where I'm on my feet all day and probably have a bad back, knees and likely hearing damage before I'm 50.

    I can do that sort of shit on the weekend for 'fun'.

    Can't see the bargain-priced labour complete with top-notch skills ever coming back. Better to automate, automate and then automate some more.

    PDW

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  5. #44
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    wish I was looking for work ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by AARONT View Post
    Companies are looking for setup guys not button pushers. It's not being picky, when it's what you need. I have had guys come in here with 10, 20, & 30 years of experience. They can't setup an 8" diameter by 12" tall cast housing, machining .001" true positions on bearing bores after 2-3 months of training. A lot of the people in this trade, just don't have the mental capacity to hit tight tolerances or know how to problem solve.
    This is the crux of the problem.

    We've been trying to expand for years, but getting people who are actually competent beyond basic machining is just impossible.

    Every "experienced" guy I've hired over the last decade or so has been an unmitigated disaster. I've button pushers come and go who were either unable or uninterested in learning more useful skills.

    Every guy I have on the shop floor right now I trained from the ground up, but there is not enough of them and the process is too time consuming.

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  8. #46
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    With only millennials and snowflakes (with their sense of self righteous entitlement, etc etc etc etc ) to choose from, you are going to be straight out of luck.

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  10. #47
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    All through the 80's manufacturing was getting beat up and the OP/ED sections of the Chicago Tribune had regular articles calling for this country to abandon the "smokestack" industries and that we should become a service economy. Blue collar jobs were looked down upon and those in the trades were regarded as mouth breathers with room temperature IQ's. No new blood was entering the trades because the IT field was paying better and had greater opportunity. The rallying cry of "Outsource!" put another nail in the coffin of so many manufacturing companies large and small. Most of the men I worked with either retired or abandoned the machine tool trades altogether if they could. One respected company owner (3rd generation heir) that went bankrupt decided to earn his living by being a middle man for the Chinese on zinc die cast molds for automobile transmissions, which further cut the throats of the remaining shops in the mid-west. Manufacturing was driven out of this country by internal and external circumstances. The consequences have come home to roost, few people (except here) know how to do much of anything, no background in it.

    On a related note, I had a few months interaction with a local Vo-Tech school in the area. Aside from a few bright ones, most of the young men I encountered were not good candidates for the future of machining. Most wouldn't really listen to the instructor and were more interested in activity on their cell phones than the machine that was on auto feed or in the middle of a program cycle. Nice enough kids I suppose but thy had seldom known want and certainly not hunger, they had little motivation to really listen/learn.

    This was not intended to be a rant about the new generation. If anything the problem would be those that are of age to have sired the current generation. A once thriving industry was killed and we have nobody to blame but ourselves for the results. I hope a younger generation can pull this one out, they sure aren't getting the opportunities or facing reality that I did back in the 70's. I'd wish them luck if they'd pull their head out of the portable device they seem addicted to.

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  12. #48
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    Gawd, so much BS, so little time

    Where did the machinists go?

    CNC killed them.

    In 1980 CNC machines were expensive and difficult to operate. Even in the mid 80's a CNC knee mill bridgeport could cost you 40k.

    By the mid 90's used machines, Haas, Fadal, southwestern every single machine shop had CNC. I bought my first in 1992.

    Even in the early 90's I could not find 'real' machinists. One guy who stood in front of an NC turning center for ten years. Another guy who might have been a half assed machinist during the Korean war. Another guy who was already making 30 bucks an hour[in 1994 or so] and looking for more.

    That was a quarter century ago people.

    Ohh, the younger generation.......shut up


    The younger generation is smart enough not to work for peanuts, listen to your crap, learn the narrow skill set you want them to, live on overtime to pay their bills, then be out of a job with an unmarketable skill set[like standing in front of a CNC lathe] when you or your customer screws up.

    IF people are not pounding on your door it is because you are not paying enough.

    You want a machinist, make one.

    hire a kid and train them.

    Just like it has always been

  13. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by gustafson View Post
    Gawd, so much BS, so little time

    Where did the machinists go?

    CNC killed them.

    In 1980 CNC machines were expensive and difficult to operate. Even in the mid 80's a CNC knee mill bridgeport could cost you 40k.

    By the mid 90's used machines, Haas, Fadal, southwestern every single machine shop had CNC. I bought my first in 1992.

    Even in the early 90's I could not find 'real' machinists. One guy who stood in front of an NC turning center for ten years. Another guy who might have been a half assed machinist during the Korean war. Another guy who was already making 30 bucks an hour[in 1994 or so] and looking for more.

    That was a quarter century ago people.

    Ohh, the younger generation.......shut up


    The younger generation is smart enough not to work for peanuts, listen to your crap, learn the narrow skill set you want them to, live on overtime to pay their bills, then be out of a job with an unmarketable skill set[like standing in front of a CNC lathe] when you or your customer screws up.

    IF people are not pounding on your door it is because you are not paying enough.

    You want a machinist, make one.

    hire a kid and train them.

    Just like it has always been
    I disagree. The 'good' machinists adapted and became programmers and setup people FOR the cnc machines. But, I think when people here (IMO) talk about machinist it is probably an even split between machinist as in a manual guy and machinist as in a cnc programmer or setup guy, or someone that can do both.

    What I see as a problem, at least for me, is I did the tool & die apprenticeship, I can run manual machines, but I went into programming and cnc when the opportunity presented itself. I think (and I'm sure I will get some flak) I should be paid accordingly as having the skill set to program and setup cnc mills and lathes, run a bridgeport, blanchard, engine lathe, wire edm, etc. I realize that a job may only want/need me to program one 3 axis mill when I can do 4th and 5 axis programming, but they don't need it so the job pays $xx/hr which kind of sucks but I can sort of understand...

  14. #50
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    The younger generation is smart enough not to work for peanuts, listen to your crap, learn the narrow skill set you want them to, live on overtime to pay their bills, then be out of a job with an unmarketable skill set[like standing in front of a CNC lathe] when you or your customer screws up.
    But look at the jobs the younger generation are doing: they are waiting tables, bartending, Uber driver, cook, etc.

    These are all jobs that favor younger people, are filled by younger people, pay well going in, and pay with a lot of cash that is untaxed. Well, sooner or later these "younger" people are going to be older, and not such a good fit for their youth-oriented service jobs. Plus, after a couple of decades of having a big percentage of their income in cash, these nit-wits will wake up one day and be up the shit's creek.

    Most of these restaurant, bar, and retail service jobs are not actually careers, even though the younger generation seems to think they have a good career on their hands. Oh, the reality slap they will be getting down the road...

    Working in a trade like machining isn't glorious, it's not attention-getting, and it's not necessarily "fun", but a young person can make a career out of it. Especially in medium to larger companies, there is always opportunity to advance your career, if you stick with it and actually apply yourself and try.

    And, let's not forget the middle-and-high school education system in America is largely responsible for eliminating technical training and education for our youth. After all, they are in direct partnership with the mighty University system in this country, which wants everyone to sign up and attend four-year university!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    I disagree. The 'good' machinists adapted and became programmers and setup people FOR the cnc machines. But, I think when people here (IMO) talk about machinist it is probably an even split between machinist as in a manual guy and machinist as in a cnc programmer or setup guy, or someone that can do both.

    What I see as a problem, at least for me, is I did the tool & die apprenticeship, I can run manual machines, but I went into programming and cnc when the opportunity presented itself. I think (and I'm sure I will get some flak) I should be paid accordingly as having the skill set to program and setup cnc mills and lathes, run a bridgeport, blanchard, engine lathe, wire edm, etc. I realize that a job may only want/need me to program one 3 axis mill when I can do 4th and 5 axis programming, but they don't need it so the job pays $xx/hr which kind of sucks but I can sort of understand...
    You misunderstand


    CNC makes a machinist 3 times as productive

    which means you need 1/3 as many machinists

    which means you do not need to train machinists for jobs that don't exist

    which means you close schools for training machinists


    That all happened before China

    Offshoring did not help, but it did not start it.


    The availability of a high accuracy CNC machine on the used market means that having a guy who knows how to , say, set up a boring head, is not very important.


    So not only the quantity, but quality, of machinists has diminished.

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  17. #52
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    I think that there's some truth in both the last two posts. Granted, we're really talking about two different classes of worker here. One that is intelligent and motivated by things of interest that they're exposed to; and one that is just looking to hold down an entry level job and hopefully make a living wage. I can assure you that in the latter case, the kids working at the local Panera are not getting rich. Of the kids in the former group, there is a lot of opportunity to use your brains and talents in areas that possibly didn't even exist in the 80's. So learning computer programming or figuring out how to write a smart phone app, or make a tech savvy website are relatively bright and shiny compared to manufacturing jobs. But the other part of it is that workers entering the workforce can only choose from things they are exposed to, and by closing schools and apprenticeship programs, we're making it harder for potential workers to become aware that there even are opportunities in manufacturing. Kind of a double whammy.




    Quote Originally Posted by gustafson View Post
    You misunderstand


    CNC makes a machinist 3 times as productive

    which means you need 1/3 as many machinists

    which means you do not need to train machinists for jobs that don't exist

    which means you close schools for training machinists


    That all happened before China

    Offshoring did not help, but it did not start it.


    The availability of a high accuracy CNC machine on the used market means that having a guy who knows how to , say, set up a boring head, is not very important.


    So not only the quantity, but quality, of machinists has diminished.

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  19. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by cnctoolcat View Post
    But look at the jobs the younger generation are doing: they are waiting tables, bartending, Uber driver, cook, etc.

    These are all jobs that favor younger people, are filled by younger people, pay well going in, and pay with a lot of cash that is untaxed. Well, sooner or later these "younger" people are going to be older, and not such a good fit for their youth-oriented service jobs. Plus, after a couple of decades of having a big percentage of their income in cash, these nit-wits will wake up one day and be up the shit's creek.

    Most of these restaurant, bar, and retail service jobs are not actually careers, even though the younger generation seems to think they have a good career on their hands. Oh, the reality slap they will be getting down the road...

    Working in a trade like machining isn't glorious, it's not attention-getting, and it's not necessarily "fun", but a young person can make a career out of it. Especially in medium to larger companies, there is always opportunity to advance your career, if you stick with it and actually apply yourself and try.

    And, let's not forget the middle-and-high school education system in America is largely responsible for eliminating technical training and education for our youth. After all, they are in direct partnership with the mighty University system in this country, which wants everyone to sign up and attend four-year university!
    I can only hope things "over there" aren't as you believe them to be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cnctoolcat View Post
    And, let's not forget the middle-and-high school education system in America is largely responsible for eliminating technical training and education for our youth. After all, they are in direct partnership with the mighty University system in this country, which wants everyone to sign up and attend four-year university!
    I actually think that the environmental for technical, hands on learning in middle/high school is probably ten times better than it was 15-20 years ago (when I was in school). I coach two robotics teams, and FIRST robotics has opened up mechanical learning and programming in a way that literally was not available when I was in school -- well into the period where schools had gotten rid of shop classes. The teams I teach are getting familiar with all sorts of mechanical and electric components; learning CAD, programming fundamentals, and a few are even learning CAM and machining (mostly those who compete on FRC teams). I know engineers who left college with less hands on experience than some of these kids are leaving high school with.

    I strongly agree with you about four year degrees, but schools are just responding to demand. The ease of getting student loans and the requirements for entering the work force need to be dealt with, and that's partially the government and partially employers. A degree is a portable certification of value that most employer training is not, and I think if we all get realistic there needs to be more trustworthy and valuable certifications out there. I only see a as an engineer, mostly ASQ Lean Six Sigma and PMP certs. Other than that, it's masters degrees (on top of bachelors degrees), which are expensive and often far broader than any employer wants or any engineer will really use.

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  22. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by cnctoolcat View Post
    But look at the jobs the younger generation are doing: they are waiting tables, bartending, Uber driver, cook, etc.

    These are all jobs that favor younger people, are filled by younger people, pay well going in, and pay with a lot of cash that is untaxed. Well, sooner or later these "younger" people are going to be older, and not such a good fit for their youth-oriented service jobs. Plus, after a couple of decades of having a big percentage of their income in cash, these nit-wits will wake up one day and be up the shit's creek.

    Most of these restaurant, bar, and retail service jobs are not actually careers, even though the younger generation seems to think they have a good career on their hands. Oh, the reality slap they will be getting down the road...

    Working in a trade like machining isn't glorious, it's not attention-getting, and it's not necessarily "fun", but a young person can make a career out of it. Especially in medium to larger companies, there is always opportunity to advance your career, if you stick with it and actually apply yourself and try.

    And, let's not forget the middle-and-high school education system in America is largely responsible for eliminating technical training and education for our youth. After all, they are in direct partnership with the mighty University system in this country, which wants everyone to sign up and attend four-year university!
    There is much truth here, but kids have always been waiters and such. That is what one does.

    As I explained, demand for machining education dropped off a cliff 30 years ago.

    that is why they stopped having machining programs. Why are you training someone for a job that doesn't exist?

    Most machinists have always been trained in industry, forever, since there have been machinists.

    When was the last time you saw a listing for machinist apprenticeship program?

    As I said, if you want a machinist, make one. GE is no longer training them for you


    Here is a plainly worded want ad that explains why people think there is a shortage of machinists[or plug in any vocation]


    Machinist wanted

    10 years experience

    fluent in Solidworks, Fusion, Mastercam

    Ability to run MAzak, Haas, Fanuc and Heidenhain required

    manual and CNC turning and milling experience in exotic materials required

    Solid work history a must

    Clean drug and alcohol test prior to application acceptance.

    Forward resume to The-big-giant-job-finder-corp.com

    1 week paid vacation 2 paid holidays, pay up to $14/hr for highly qualified applicants

    Mandatory weekend overtime.

    No tattoos, homos or libruls


    must be willing to relocate to [insert godforsaken rathole here]



    nearly 30 years in, the kids haven't changed, nor have owners

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    Quote Originally Posted by tay2daizzo8 View Post
    .will there be a golden unicorn walking thru that door today looking for gainful employment...i sure hope so
    I actually had that happen. The fellow had 14 years at McDonnel Aircraft, much of it CNC programming. Between smarter cad programs and smarter machines, his job sort of evaporated. He had been fired from a lousy job, the scapegoat for someone else's mistake and a co-worker who knew me suggested he contact me. He was in a funny position because he had never actually run a machine but had watched his programs being run enough to know what the machine was supposed to do. I said "Do you want to go to work?" and he did, so I put him on a job right then. He worked here for a number of years until the big slowdown killed the business.

    Re offshoring production- When I was working a booth for the antique radio club at hamfests and malls, I had a Zahl tube in my display. It generated the signal for mortar tracking radar and doesn't look anything like the usual image of a radio tube. People often asked about it, which gave me a chance for my pitch. When the MIT Radiation Laboratory wanted something, they could go to RCA, Westinghouse,GE, Eitel McCullogh, Sylvania, Raytheon, and countless smaller companies. Whatever they wanted, they got. We have fought two wars with China, sort of indirectly, but wars nevertheless. In the next one, do you think those factories we are building there will still belong to us?

    David Brooks, whom I regard as about as intelligent as a retarded goose, onetime said "Manufacturing is only 10% of the economy, so why bother about it." A tool & die maker I know responded "Without someone making the items, the truck drivers would not have a load to haul, the warehouse man would not have anything to stock, the salesman wouldn't have anything to sell, the repairman would not have anything to fix." I asked "How come an Alabama hillbilly can figure that out and all those smart people running things can't?"

    Actually, even when manufacturing was at its peak, it was only about 15% of the economy. I have been told that you can figure that when a manufacturer sets up in your town, each factory worker will create six more jobs.

    Bill

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    China. Acquaintance of mine is a welder on the slope. Has a Chinese bride who is an administrator at a high school in Beijing. They begin vocational training at 14 years old in a modern machine shop as part of their high school. Not only do they learn the coding but they also learn to operate the machinery. They build parts in school for sale to various manufacturers to finance the program. The school has a standing order from the European car and aerospace manufacturers for their graduates.

    Here in the US we would be much too worried about Johnny getting his ear buds wound up in the lathe to ever consider this.

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    Great post Gustafson. And the job posting example is spot on. They want all that yet they get shocked that you are not accepting their $20/hr offer.

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    In these parts operators are getting between 15 and 22 an hour starting, add set up and it goes to 20 to 27 an hour. Throw in machinist skills and programming and I goes to 22-27 an hour. Throw in tool making and or prototyping and it goes to 25-30+ an hour. Of course there are sometimes education and/or time on job requirements...but a lot of times if you can prove you can actually do it they will bypass it.

    Of course more specialty stuff like wire and sinker edm and grinding has a different scale sometimes.

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    Training costs money. And there is no reciprocal arrangement to guarantee that a worker will stick with you long term. It might even be due to seasonal slowdown, but after a while, employment insurance won't agree to work sharing until things pick back up. Then, you lose that worker. It's not their fault. It's not your company's fault. Shit happens.

    But it still makes one sour on training new guys eventually. Then, you just don't train, and you don't make hay when the sun is shining, but so what? Why knock yourself out?

    I do a fair amount of repair but CNC has made it tougher to justify the costs of repair, unless it is a very expensive part that requires a marginal amount of work to fix. That's why there's not much for wages available for manual machinists, IMO It's two branches of the industry competing with one another: one drives the costs down so the other cannot survive, but the other trains the minds.


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