We hear a lot about the skills gap that exists in manufacturing today. The lack of skilled machinists, welders, machine technicians, processing technicians, and people who can troubleshoot machine tools and molding presses are putting companies in a bind, making some think that even if manufacturing does come back to the U.S. we won’t be able to support it.
So what is behind this skills gap that has manufacturers gnawing their fingers even as some industry segments are picking up steam? College. Yes, you heard it—college. That’s what a molder said to me recently. So I got to thinking about that and decided he had a point.
Back when my father was a teenager only really wealthy people went to college and they went there to become scientists, doctors, lawyers, and engineers. My dad was the son of a manager of a tool and die company near Cincinnati, so it was expected that he would one day get a job at the same tool and die company. He graduated from high school, got into the apprenticeship program at this company and learned all the skills of a tool and die maker including blueprint reading and machine tool operation (such as feeds and speeds), and became a journeyman tool and die maker....