The Ideal Teacher and the Real Manufacturing Opportunities
Posted by Bert Maes on February 4, 2011
Just yesterday I have been in France at what is called the WorldSkills France competition finals (Olympiades des Métiers), a big feast honoring young skilled craftsmen in industrial trades, including the trade of advanced manufacturing machining.
The hundreds of young students I have seen competing there were working so hard, so motivated, so energized and they were so proud of what they were creating. We actually made a video on the event that I will post later on when editing is done.
I was especially honored to also meet a machining teacher with 20 years of turning and milling practice and 24 years of teaching experience. For me he seems to be the ideal CNC teacher:
- He doesn’t have a binder under his arm: he detests the teachers that focus all resources into book theory and do not offer a real hands-on degree.
- He takes the time and has the kindness and patience to teach the practical basics in blueprint reading, engineering, design, metallurgy, materials, speeds and feeds, cutting tools, programming, math, safety, and communication. His students receive the breadth training that is required to sculpt a well-rounded, versatile machining specialist… far more than a button pusher, parts changer or a trained monkey at a CNC machine.
- He battles constantly to always have access to the latest machining equipment. The world is changing at a dramatic pace and today’s young people are used to constant change and challenges. In order to attract them, the machining school department must continually develop to offer the tools and practices that show a future.
- He lets students develop their own metal artwork for their final exams. He requires his students to be creative and to make anything they want to. Together they develop great projects. They never experience boredom.
- He takes them outside the school to see metal pieces perform in the real world: planes, cars, medical devices, musical instruments, jewelery, all kinds of sports, and so on. That builds self-confidence and passion.
This guy makes schooling and the trade very interesting. Then, there is no end to the students’ engagement. He plants seeds for cultivating those young people to advance in the machining trade. His students even cried when he announced to leave his previous school. This teacher makes advanced machining manufacturing a fascinating career choice. All of his students were hired quickly.
This story is only successful because of the hard work of this teacher, school management, parents, and students. I hear many people say that young people do not want to work hard in school anymore: they take the route of least resistance; they want to make money with limited effort in no time. In this age obtaining information, communication, merchandise, food and practically anything is effortless at the touch of a button. So it should be the same for money, they think.
True, probably money can be made much faster by not pursuing a manufacturing career. But… who are the heroes of our economy? The talented, rough and intelligent individuals that start a manufacturing business in their garage and turn out amazing products. Computerized equipment, CNC machines, CAD/CAM, lean processes and the internet have greatly enhanced manufacturing job satisfaction, while reaching an audience they never could have 10 or 15 years ago.
An inspiring example is the story of Mike who started his own manufacturing company at the age of 15.
- Metals were one of the few durable goods where manufacturing increased in 2010. Employment in fabricated metal products manufacturing increased by 4.6%.
- In February 2011 42,7% of manufacturing companies will hire. “Only” 33,2% of service firm will add jobs.
But those manufacturing companies have difficulties in recruiting the talented young machining experts having the right skills for their high-level job openings. All over France, school machining departments are being closed as they don’t get sufficient enrollment.
Considering that millions of people are actively seeking work and still cannot obtain employment and considering that in twenty years 90% of the current machinists are retiring, it is now more important than ever to do start better teaching with better equipment and better marketing for CNC manufacturing!