There is an unprecedented lack of specialized tradesmen and women in today’s workforce.
Students are primarily encouraged to go to college after high school and they’re often unaware of other career paths available to them.
After decades of preaching college to students, the American workforce now faces an incredible lack of interest in trades – careers that start out with an apprenticeship rather than a college education. How can we solve this issue?
The super-majority of students graduating high school are only aware of one career path – college. During their entire educational track from kindergarten through high school, they’re drilled, tested, and prepared for the sole objective of getting into college. This process, however, is leaving a gaping hole due to the lack of interest in trades and trade schools. If students aren’t exposed to the possibility of a separate career path and given the option to choose it, America may find itself perpetually lacking qualified mechanics in every area of industry. Open the door to this alternate career path, however, and many will undoubtedly walk through the door into their future career.
Students need early exposure to real-world training with hands-on applications if there is any hope for stirring interest in trades such as manufacturing. Companies that provide CNC machining services will look to hire interested, engaged, and trained programmers and operators. Hands-on experience in the classroom with a CNC machine is an ideal way to provide real-world training to students who may be interested in pursuing a career in manufacturing. While they won’t encounter nearly the same degree of learning as they would in a fully equipped CNC machine shop, they’ll learn enough to enter trade school or get hired on as an apprentice. Educational training will provide them with enough real-world exposure that they’ll be able to hold their own in a fully equipped shop.
Equip Students with Design Skills
CNC machining takes a lot more knowledge than most students realize. If they get trained in the classroom, they’ll learn how to use a mill and lathe and learn the difference between verticle and horizontal milling. They’ll dig into the difference between woodworking and working with steel and other metals. And they’ll learn about design.
When it comes to the world of CNC machining, the design component is just as important as understanding how to work a lathe or mill. Much of CNC programming relies on G-code or Computer Assisted Design, also known as CAD. G-code is the basic programming language CNC machines use on a global scale. If a student learns G-code, they can take it across the world to work in any CNC shop. CAD programs enable manufacturers to build a product design on the computer then translate that design into a CNC file. Designers or manufacturers who build complex objects frequently use CAD programs to assist with prototyping and production runs.
Prepare Students for the Future
The machine shop and manufacturing floor of tomorrow will be filled with CNC machines, 3D printers, robots, cobots, and industrial automation. The only way to adequately prepare students for a competitive and demanding workplace is to teach them how to navigate it. During a pandemic, this looks like teaching students to work with G-Code and CAD programming while they’re learning from home. This may also mean ordering CNC spare parts for students to work with at home prior to arriving back on campus for hands-on learning. It may take work, planning, and flexibility to teach these skills in complex settings, but in the end, it will be more than worth it when students learn about every available career path and America’s workforce is filled with qualified, passionate machinists, once more.
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