Comments for: Hail to the machinist: What you should know about Maine manufacturing

Posted Sept. 12, 2012, at 3:58 p.m.

The start of a new welding program at Beal College in Bangor and the announcement of a new precision machine shop in York County’s town of Limington are some specific, local examples of the state’s continued need for workers who have the skills to fix and build products. But it’s …

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  • Anonymous

    Take note those heading off to college. There is nothing wrong with going to a trade school to learn a skilled trade. You’d make more money than most kids who get a traditional BA or BS, not to mention smaller loans and more job opportunities.

    • Good smart advice. I just wonder how many of the various School Counselor’s would make this option open to their student’s ?

      • Anonymous

        Very, very few.  When my kids were in high school a few years ago, all the counselors could say was college, college, college.  Mention wanting to work in a “dirty hands” job and it’s “No, no, you need college”.  Therein lies the rub, and it’s rubbing the wrong way.  My opinion.

  • Anonymous

    The manufacturing sector is for all practical purposes stone cold dead with no foreseeable comeback, particularly in a state as business-unfriendly as Maine. The machinist jobs that offer $30/hr are far & few between, $20/hr is the norm & that’s far from a living wage. Kids, be smart, go into the public sector where you’ll enjoy easy money, exorbitant benefits, a retirement plan & no pressure to produce a tangible result. Put your 20 easy years in, retire & double-dip.

    • Anonymous

       Agreed. The machine shops have been singing this sad song for nearly 30 years. Not mentioned in any of these puff pieces are a few discouraging realities in this trade.
       First, you may not spend as much for the education, but you’ll pay dearly for the required tools. Expect to spend many thousands to be correctly equipped.
       Second, those tools will come in handy to pawn when the inevitable layoffs come. The shop floor is the first area cut.
       Lastly, the shortage is a lie. Many of these places say they are looking for a CNC lathe operator, but the job requirement is for a CNC lathe operator who has experience turning hardened A-10 on a Hitachi. The job requirements are  absurd, and then they get to claim “We can’t get any help!”

       Kids, don’t buy into it. The only reason they continue this song-and-dance is to get more fresh recruits flooding the market, keeping wages down and making  existing employees nervous about job security. Let a REAL shortage develop, and they just might decide to treat the help like human beings!

    • Anonymous

      Or move to a state that supports training and apprenticeship programs.  That’s where the good jobs are and the competition between shops leads to top wages for top skills.

  • Anonymous

    The point of this article, which I believe is spot on, is that manufacturing today demands more than the old school tech training programs for machinists.  I have no idea what Beal is doing but hopefully it is a comprehensive education with arts and sciences in addition to hands-on shop work.  I get the notion that many kids aren’t cut out for traditional college studies but those kids aren’t going to cut it in manufacturing anymore.  They can work service industry jobs, and there is no shame in that, but 21st century manufacturing requires a well-rounded, educated workforce.  Attracting kids to that lifestyle around here is going to be a big challenge – long hours, crappy pay, and not very many jobs right now but all of that could change quickly so this is good news

    • Anonymous

      And why do you think someone in the Machinist trade would need Arts and Sciences? I have worked with many people in the machine trades who wern’t cut out for college.  They were some of the best in their trade.

      • Anonymous

        Today machines are robots and you need to be able to communicate with that robot, not to mention you need to be able to communicate with the “human” resources people at your plant who act like robots.  It’s a different world, no offense intended.  rallydog makes some good points in his post, the worker is really also a robot and considered expendable by management but those communication skills can separate employable kids with good machining skills from kids who have good machining skills but are not employable in today’s manufacturing world.  Someday the machine operator will be replaced by someone operating the robot that operates the machine, that’s progress and it’s inevitable

        • Anonymous

          Haven’t spent much time in a machine shop, have you. 

          • Anonymous

            I just left one a few hours ago and will be back in one tomorrow

      • Anonymous

        They need to be able to read and write, they need to know computers, how to read and understand complicated material.  They need to be able to carry on an intelligent conversation.

        • Anonymous

          They learn those things in high school.  i don’t see a need for college level Arts and Sciences.  Time wasted learning useless information could be used to improve skills.  Machinist entails much more than CNC.  CNC machines falls under machine operator.

  • Guest

    Quote body
    “The issue isn’t just jobs. Even slaves had jobs. The issue is wages.” — Jim Hightower

    The story is, businesses cannot find skilled workers. I suppose it is hard to find humans to work at unfulfilling  jobs, no future, no benefits, treated badly by bean counter managers, did I mention low pay. That is the future offer to our youth in the USA. When employees are treated as an asset, valuable, respectfully, and compensated with a fair proportion to the productivity, watch them line up at the hiring door. The challenge for today’s businesses is how do they attract quality employees to sweatshop conditions.I witnessed temporary employees hired where I used to work. They did the same job I did at half the pay and no benefits or promise of a permanent position. These temp people were all skilled and had long standing experience at other companies. Their problem is the rug was pulled out from under them and were discarded by the “Machiavellian” policies practiced today. It was not long before these temp people saw behind the wizards curtain and could see there was no future  there. The majority I talked to expressed the same sentiment, 1 how could you have worked here so long being treated as a sub human, 2 I am out of here as soon as anything come along. It seems like businesses, the idea of “business” has been elevated to the status of deity. When I hear business mentioned it is with the connotation of superiority. We cannot find people who measure up to our supreme standards. You know the old saying, “you have to spend money to make money”. It is about time for businesses to realize they are in a partnership with their staff, and equal partnership, after all they make the stuff you sell.

    • Both well said and with more than a truck load of truth. The constant degrading of the shop talent by both manager’s and the HR Dept’s, who usually don’t know one end of a wrench from another, is almost universally recognized as the main reason so many shop’s and organizations go thru what’s kown as ‘The Leaky Bucket Syndrome’ when it comes to hiring, and then having to re-hire, to keep a slot filled. Both talent and the plain decency of treating the people that make up an organization are what keep any growing company moving forward. When the people who make up a Company or Organization are treated with disrespect and complete disregard for what it took them to achieve the skill in whatever fireld they are in, it’s inevitable that the Company or Organization is going to crash, economic condition’s regardless.

      There have been so many studies that have shown that HR policies, and shop floor relation’s, are THE leading cause of manpower turnover that it’s not funny. That we, as a Country, continue to trash the very resource we need, that being the talent that actually fuels the economy, just shows that the priority’s of business need to change if the Country is to grow out of the mess we are in. The more that the resource’s are wasted, the worse this is gonna get, no matter who’s in office. 

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