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Friday, August 1, 2014

Educators Offering More Machining Courses to Battle Skills Gap

Students learn to operate a milling machine. Credit: TechShop

As more industry groups weigh in on the growing skills gap issue, in which there are fewer and fewer skilled workers with the necessary STEM knowledge and hands-on training to replace retiring workers, an increasing number of vocational schools and community colleges are offering courses in machining and CNC programming.

A new McKinsey & Co. report shows only 42 percent of employers believe new graduates are adequately prepared by higher learning institutions, while 45 percent of those graduates don’t believe they are properly prepared, CNN Money reports. This survey adds to many other reports that show a widening gap in skilled manufacturing employment and prepared skilled workers.

Schools are responding. More and more, community colleges and vocational schools are adding machining, CNC programming and other manufacturing-related courses to their curricula. Here are a few we’ve seen:

Free Range Community College in Longmont, Colo., near Boulder, will offer a precision machining class starting February 2013. The class, titled “Introduction to Machining,” and devised through cooperation between the college and northern Colorado manufacturing representatives, will cover “safety, work ethic, introduction to machine tools, hand measurement, bench tools, shop math, blueprint reading, introduction to cutting tools and manual mill and lathe.

Depending on the success of the class, the college could offer more manufacturing classes in the future.

The Northwest Michigan Council of Governments and the North Central Michigan College have worked together to offer a basic machining training program at the Petoskey, Mich., college, Petoskey News reports.

The students, who will have completed 190 hours of study by course’s end tomorrow, have been trained in a variety of fundamental shop skills, as well as machine tool operation and CNC.

Gillette College-Campbell County High School is taking advantage of machining equipment that had been gathering dust in storage by offering a new machining college credit course that allows students to gain important shop training while attending high school classes, AP reports. Currently, the Gillette, Wyo., school is able to offer students college credits as they study machining fundamentals and work hands-on with machine tools, but administrators hope to one day allow students to “graduate with a high school diploma and receive a college certificate in machining on the same day.”

Brian Lane

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