The Future of CNC Manufacturing Education – CNC Manufacturing, Education Reform & Change Management News.

FULL Report: Skills Shortage EU

I brought together two main expert studies on the shortage of skilled workers in Europe and European manufacturing. The University of Bremen (Germany) has sent me a very interesting report called “SOS Shortage of Skilled Workers: A comparison of the European Metal Industry and Electrical Industry (July 2008)”. And in February 2010, the European Commission released the study “New Skills for New Jobs: Action Now”.

Both expert groups basically say that “Europe lacks 20 million skilled workers and that shortages are acute in the information, communication and health care technology sector. This trend will only worsen. Workers are not being trained quickly enough to fill some 16 million more high-skilled jobs that will need to be filled in 2020”.

>>> Filling the jobs of tomorrow is one of the greatest challenges facing Europe today. The right skills are the key to moving us out of recession into recovery.

>>> Education is the best way to boost your sluggish economy and curb unemployment. Effective teaching is the game changer in manufacturing. The countries that succeed in their exit strategies from the current crisis will be those that best educate and train their people for the future. [See my post: “Is the struggle to find highly skilled workers the most pressing issue facing manufacturers?]

Personnel ShortageThere are 22.9 million unemployed people in the EU, including more than 5 million unemployed young people. At the same time is a tragedy that rising unemployment coexists with unfilled vacancies. It is unbelievable that many (if not most) employers are developing their companies, changing their products and services, as well as how they do things, looking for new markets and new sources of competitive edge, all are fighting for people with the right skills to help them get there. [See IBM in the ‘race for talent’ offshoring to Asia, because there the company sees more science and engineering talent]

  • Between 10% (Germany) and 30% (Slovenia) of the manufacturing enterprises in Europe are experiencing a dramatic increase of losses in production due to a lack of skilled workers. These percentages have continuously increased since 2005.
  • In Austria -in 2006- there were three occupations of the metal and electrical sector with more job vacancies than unemployed persons: welders, turners and milling workers.

In the next decade, we expect some 80 million job opportunities to arise, including almost 7 million new additional jobs. 16 million these jobs will require a more highly skilled workforce. Most job creation is projected for higher level occupations.

The manufacturing and electro-mechanical engineering sector is shifting from manual (skilled and unskilled) workers to managers, professionals and technicians, with computer and electronic skills and know-how. As a result, most manufacturing jobs will be created in the manufacturing sectors that create higher-tech products like computers (super-fast computer chips), semiconductors, Aerospace & Defense, in Energy & ResourcesLife Sciences & Medical Services.

(Also see my list of several green engineering jobs and my list “The next decade’s top 10 growth industries“)

The importance of highly-skilled manufacturing technologists can be expected to increase up to 2020, and the importance of jobs for manual workers in EU15 for skilled manual workers is expected to decline significantly up to 2020, except electricians (reflecting trends towards computerization and digital control methods).

We can, we must, do better, the reports say. Increased globalization and global competition means that European countries will no longer be able to compete on cost and price, but need to produce higher quality and more innovative products and services, delivered by higher skilled people.

Future demographic trends will add further pressure to tackle this challenge. The recruitment of skilled personnel is increasingly getting more difficult as the share of the elderly population will dramatically increase and less young skilled workers enter the labor market. With the retirement of older employees there will be a loss of know-how, performance and productivity. A lack of young staff can do a lot of harm to innovations. The challenge will be to retain older skilled workers. Vital is a systematic development of training for older employees and the challenge to win women for technical occupations, by ensuring that working arrangements as well as rates of pay are comparable to those in other sectors.

Everyone needs to ‘step up’ – individuals, private and public employers, the education sector and governments at all levels.

The challenges ahead can only be overcome with a much more concerted and dedicated effort by individuals, private and public sector employers, trade unions, education and training providers, public services and governments at all levels, cooperation and working closely together towards a common agenda. We need to bring the worlds of education, training and work closer together. Encourage interaction. Develop more effective relationships between providers, employers and guidance and placement services.

Industry and government have to work closely with education establishments to promote science and engineering in schools, as well as to provide more specialized engineering skills and practical work experience.

There are many valuable and relevant initiatives already existing. But all programs should convey a more coherent and stronger message. Their aim should be to accelerate the shift of education systems towards achieving greater relevance and more openness.



  • There are also too many schools, training programs and tertiary education institutions where the content of the curriculum and teaching methods could do much more to prepare people for the world of work. Too many training programs focus too much on obsolete skills and knowledge and too little on transversal key competences.
  • Encourage more people to take the courses in technical and scientific subjects and mathematics throughout all levels of education, beginning at the earliest possible age
  • Contribute to enhancing the image of engineering and manufacturing more generally in relation to other fields of study, and to encourage a positive attitude among young people
  • Work closely with local companies, sector associations and trade unions to ensure the relevance of courses provided and their content, where these are related to local needs. In general young graduates do not meet the requirements of the enterprises. There is a serious lack of technical and practical knowledge and high-level skills linked to:
    • The increasing variety of materials, applications and relevant technologies in the sector = Young people need understanding of higher developed, more sophisticated technologies;
    • The increasingly intellectual and service requirements: project management + maintenance/ inspection + instruction/ training, customer services + CAD/CAM programming,… = Schools need to integrate managerial skills in their courses. Young people need training of leadership competences and communication skills.
    • Higher complexity and variety of the tasks (flexibility!) due to the rapidly changing needs and expectations of the customers = needing continuous training to understand ever more complex production processes.
  • Develop hybrid, digital and entrepreneurial competences (such as creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, citizenship, media literacy) that embrace modern management and technology, in order to both encourage initiative rather than simple reproduction of received knowledge and to better adapt to learners and employers’ needs.
  • Training curricula and didactics should be completely re-designed and improved, towards modern know-how, the above skills and extensive practical experience.



  • Work together with all possible local and regional partners (government representatives at all levels and their agencies, employees and trade unions, and other businesses in the locality and sector) to promote the industry and address specific local business needs and to address concerns about the image of the sector and the attractiveness of the working environments in order to be able to attract more highly qualified employees, including women.
  • Work closely with universities, colleges and schools in your own localities in order to promote engineering and science in schools, and expand arrangements for practical work experience for students at all levels
  • Co-invest and sponsor in educational equipment and infrastructure, and participate in the activities of education and training institutions in professional or governance and advisory board roles. Develop criteria to measure, monitor and evaluate progress.
  • Companies often miss committed prospective personnel policies. Many companies are cutting back on investments in further training and personnel development, whereas enterprises in Austria investing in training have no problems in finding skilled workers… Employers should see training and upskilling as an investment in a sustainable future, rather than as a cost to be minimized. The benefits of retaining a skilled workforce will be far greater than the costs. Your future prosperity depends on broadening skills and raising skill levels.
  • Enterprises find it difficult to source information about funding for training to bridge the skill gaps; companies should be given help and advice to integrate skills development into the entire company strategy.



  • Recognize the strategic importance of the sector for the Union as a whole:

    • The sector accounts for over 20% of the EU’s total exports of goods, and has increased its share of global markets over the past decade (while the US and Japan have lost out to China and Asia).
    • Manufacturing companies account for a particularly large share of output and employment in Southern Germany, Northern Italy and the South-East of the Czech Republic.
    • The climate change, the ecological challenges facing mankind, is truly a matter of long term survival. Science, technology & manufacturing must develop new sources of energy and new technologies (such as electric cars, improved wind turbines, improved solar panels, technology to generate rain, technology to grow trees and plants, better water filters) to meet the world’s forecast demand in energy. That is in full expansion at the moment. We are, according to Jeremy Rifkin, a leading US economist, entering the “THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION”. A revolution in technology is going on, he says, that will require a huge variety of new and different things to be made and which will require manufacturing machine tools as part of that process.
    • Make explicit and sensible choices about priorities for public funding of education and training. Invest more heavily in 21st century skills development. Overall investment in technical education must increase, even if fiscal constraints are present, and must be efficient and well targeted.
    • Consider how the structural funds can better support the goal of bringing education, training and work closer together as well as modernizing education and training systems overall.
    • Incentives need to be designed to attract people into manufacturing training.
    • Incentives are also needed to enhance the adaptation of all schools, universities and training places, encourage dialogue with the world of work and make them more effectively concentrate on the development of relevant competences.
    • Develop early-warning systems and improved labor market information, to better anticipate future skills needs.
    • Open up the borders to global talent, to attract the necessary highly skilled engineers and scientists



Only a joint approach will deliver what people really need and want. A more flexible, responsive education and training system is good for learners, good for employers, good for the economy and good for the communities it serves. It will help balance the labor market and ensure that individuals and employers acquire the skills they need.

All above recommendations will not be achieved without the sustained commitment and engagement of governments, local authorities, employers, education and training providers and individuals.



One of the finest executions of these experts visions is the “Haas Technical Education Center” (HTEC) concept, probably the most significant movement available today to educate tomorrow’s CNC manufacturing specialists.

The HTEC program get’s back to the basics: Young people will only be inspired to enter manufacturing if they can follow education/training on high-quality equipment, with passionate teachers, on hands-on real-life projects, and not to forget: in an attractive, bright, truly modern, high-tech learning environment.

The HTEC initiative is a partnership between European educational establishments, Haas Automation Europe (HAE), its distributor-owned HFOs (Haas Factory Outlets) and an alliance of industry leading, CNC technology partners.  HAE launched the HTEC programme in 2007 to counter what it regards as one of the greatest threats to the continent’s sustainable economic development: a shortage of talented and motivated young people entering the precision engineering industry with CNC machining skills.

The programme provides Haas CNC machine tools to educational establishments in Europe, so enabling HTEC students to become familiar with the latest CNC machining technology.  This hands-on experience ensures students graduate with transferable skills and better employment opportunities.  The HTECs also benefit local and national engineering companies by increasing the supply of well-educated apprentices.

Since launch, the HTEC initiative has expanded rapidly across Europe.  Governments – from Sweden to Romania and from Portugal to Russia – have enthusiastically backed the programme because they recognise the need to build a stronger manufacturing infrastructure.  This requires well trained, highly motivated CNC technicians; people with access to the very latest CNC technology and with the knowledge and skills to get the best from it.  That’s what the HTEC programme aims to deliver and that’s why HAE and its partners will continue to develop the programme in 2010.

The HTEC Industry Partners are some of the best-known names in precision manufacturing technologies and have demonstrated a strong, ongoing commitment to the HTEC objectives, backing them with the massive discounts only for schools that step into the HTEC network, investment of time, expertise and classroom-ready teaching materials and resources.  Currently, the HTEC Industry Partner network comprises KELLER, MasterCam, Esprit, Renishaw, Sandvik Coromant, Schunk, Blaser, Urma, Chick, Air Turbine Technology, Hainbuch, and CIMCOOL.

At the end of 2009 there were 36 HTECs in 12 European countries HAE plans to open a further 24 HTECs in Europe in 2010, bringing the total to 60 HTECs in 15 countries.

For further information and to find out how your college can join the programme, please see:


9 Responses to “FULL Report: Skills Shortage EU”

  1. […] Report: Skills Shortage EU […]

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by HTECbertmaes: Finally a decent report: Shortage of Skilled Workers in #Manufacturing

  3. […] FULL Report: Skills Shortage EU […]

  4. […] FULL Report: Skills Shortage EU […]

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  7. Bernard said

    Do you read Dutch? If so, my July2010 ‘Toekomst arbeidsmarkt 2010-2050’ ( might interest you.

  8. Я копаю колодцы и бурю скважины. Если у вас есть вопросы, вы можете их мне задать.

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