People Just Don't Get Manufacturing

August 21, Chicago’s NPR station ran a short blurb about how manufacturing’s seemingly continuous slowdown has caused many shops to let go of workers in recent months. Hearing stories like this over and over supports the notion that one of the difficulties in urging a young generation workforce to enter the manufacturing industry is not only caused by manufacturing’s image as dirty, monotonous and underpaid, but also by the general news being presented to the public everyday. Who would want to commit one’s life to jobs that are portrayed as traditionally difficult and also declining? Most people make little effort to learn the greater truth behind the stories they hear. And all that’s heard about manufacturing these days is how it’s flailing.

Question: Do you think there is a chance your children will be interested in a carear as a machinist?

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4 thoughts on “People Just Don't Get Manufacturing

  1. richard

    No I don’t think my children will be interested in manufacturing, in particular cnc machining. And the problem of not being to attract young people into the indrusty is a growing trend and is due to a number of factors. The plain and simple fact is that generally there isn’t as much money in it as there used to be, so there is less money to give to employees. It is also a much more volitile industry so owners are more cautous when it comes to spending money. So if you take a job which duties include setting up and programming a highly sophisticated and expensive machine where you have to produce quality parts in a reasonable amount of time otherwise you are going to get yelled at, and pay $40 000 – $45 000 a year, I don’t think there are going to be a lot of young people come running. Not to mention the enviroment, I have been in a lot of shops and there is a lot that aren’t pleasant.
    Yes it is challenging and very interesting at times, but is it worth it?

    It is also part of a cultural shift that over the past 20 years working with your hands makes you a second rate, you just have to turn the tv on to see that. One part of it is that our parents had to work hard and not in ideal jobs and they raised there children in such a way that they don’t have to do what they did.

    In Europe they are ahead of us in a lot of ways and this is also one of them. Manufacturing is much more competitive, specialized, and consequently the jobs available are much fewer as they have turned to automation in a big way. And the competition for these jobs are fierce. Industry there has consolodated and lot of small shops have disappeared. Leaving only large facilities that do not go on hiring sprees, they hire few very bright individuals that get jobs for life. Given that there is not a lot left over in terms of skilled trades for machining. And those jobs are not as well paid as you would think.

    I remember when I was just starting out to become a Tool & Die maker we were told by our teacher that Tool & Die makers would never be out of work, even in a recession. That is true no longer. So with all that said I hope that there will be easier ways for my children to make a living.

  2. Tyler Shinaberry

    I wrote a 4 page repsonse to this…. and ended up calling the guy who got me into machining and thanking him. Loss of nearly three hours of the day… but I gained the ummfff… I thought I had lost earlier this week and am back on track.

    That 4 page response needs to be 40 pages to get my point across and I don’t have the time for that.

    The fact is Richard… you bring up some standard truths, but some of us want to change that. I am devoting my life to changing that…

    To all of your readers Lloyd: You are either for me or against me.

    If you want to contact me to network and discuss ways to strengthen your business/life while bettering this world and share about the things we are doing and what we need to do to acheive our common goals, I will give you my numbers and email address— I am open for chat whenever I can, I am passionate about this responsibility, I am hoping others are too.

    I am sick of listening to the whining that we can’t change this… we have no choice but to revolt this way of thinking. I am not even 20 yet, and this is going to be a problem to haunt me the remainder of my life unless we do something NOW. I am willing to listen to any opinions. I am making great strides, but I need a deeper network.


    Tyler Shinaberry
    EPIK, Ltd.
    (419) 949-4828 Direct Line

  3. Laura Schneider

    Actually, I think the pendulum is swinging. I believe two of my four children just might enter the metalworking industry in some way (one of the boys, and one of the girls!). The other two will be lawyers!

    Other comments:

    A) Outsourcing to other countries like China is becoming more expensive, as the dollar weakens, and those countries finally begin to implement environmental and labor controls. They will not stay cheap.

    B) Americans are slowly beginning to wake up to the fact that we are shooting ourselves in the foot by outsourcing everything to just 3 other countries. Don’t get me wrong, we should certainly work globally, but we should follow the basic rule of certified purchasing agents: They never allow a single vendor to provide more than 70% of a given product. America is learning that we should do the same on a national scale. No single nation should supply us with more than 10% of any given commodity, whether it’s oil, shoes, or computer tech support. Then we would not be dependent on any single nation.

    C) Americans need to get back to the basics. Take pride in their work. And I don’t mean this false pride over cars that break down 7 times as much as the Japanese cars, I mean pride in doing things right. Pride in precision. That is something Americans have lost. Go down to Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. Take a look at the wooden trinkets. The ones with big stamps with “Proudly Made in USA” look like c**p next to the Chinese-made trinkets! That’s just one example. So, before getting all huffy and proud to be American, remember, at this point in time, China, India, and Japan CAN and DO better work than we do. When we change the quality of our work, the jobs will come back to us. (It will help with point A I made above.)

  4. swarfblo

    Laura: I agree that some American products need to improve in quality, but you’re living in a dream world if you think it’s possible to import 10 percent of each commodity or product. I invite you to read a book written by Sarah Bongiorni entitled, “A Year Without Made in China,” which Today’s Machining World reviewed some time ago. The author’s family attempted to live one year without buying anything made in China. They were still allowed to buy stuff from other countries. It was basically impossible. That may make you depressed but it’s harsh reality, so we have to recognize it and live with it.

    Don’t get me wrong, manufacturing is still very important to the American economy, and it has been prospering right now as a result of our devalued currency. But without outsourcing, American companies wouldn’t be able to stay in business and at least hold on to some jobs here.

    You are right about China becoming more expensive to manufacture in. That’s why they’re outsourcing themselves to Vietnam.


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