Take a poll of machine shop and manufacturing company owners in Rhode Island and they’re all likely to tell you the same thing, said David Maynard, co-owner of Dean Machine in Cranston.
“I could expand immediately by 10 percent if I could just find three, four or five more skilled employees,” said Maynard, whose company has 27 employees and four job openings.
“Two of the positions are for are senior level employees and require a minimum of 10 years experience,” he said.
“The other two positions are for CNC operators, and those positions have been open for quite a while,” said Maynard.
CNC is Computer Numerically Controlled machining, which is used to drill, cut and shape goods used in industries ranging from automotive to aerospace.
CNC skills are what manufacturers say are most needed to move the industry forward, according to Chris Matteson, manager of workforce and career development for the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association.
“We estimate there are about 300 to 400 CNC positions open in Rhode Island,” said Matteson. “We expect that to grow 5 percent every year for the next 10 years.”
The anticipated increase in the demand for skilled CNC machinists is based on attrition as those in the industry retire, as well as continuing advances in technology, he said.
A new boot camp designed specifically to address the shortage of CNC machinists wrapped up one seven-week session on July 3 and launched a second session on July 7.
The 60-hour Introduction to Manufacturing Skills Boot Camp is a collaborative project of the Governor’s Workforce Board, RIMA and Polaris Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Sixteen students are in each session, at no cost to them, with funding provided by the collaborating organizations.
The course includes shop math and blueprint reading, as well as overall preparation on manufacturing industry skills, with the emphasis on CNC machining.
The shortage of CNC skills in the workforce long has been obvious to Maynard.
“This was the birthplace of the industrial revolution, and now you’re hard-pressed to find enough machinists to staff a company like ours with about 30 people,” he said.