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The MAKING CHIPS Podcast for Manufacturing Leaders with Jason Zenger & Jim Carr

Welcome to MakingChips - We believe that manufacturing is challenging, but if you are connected to a community of leaders, you can elevate your skills, solve your problems and grow your business. Making Chips is a weekly podcast that will EQUIP and INSPIRE MANUFACTURING LEADERS to succeed in the challenging world of manufacturing. Our mission is for the METALWORKING NATION to Think Differently About Manufacturing In Order to Elevate their Game. Your hosts, Jason Zenger & Jim Carr, own manufacturing businesses and interview other leaders in the metalworking, machining, fabrication, tooling and machine tool industries. We have interviewed successful manufacturing CEOs you may have not heard of and also the biggest names in manufacturing like Titan Gilroy from Titans of CNC, John Saunders from NYC CNC, Mark Terryberry from Haas Automation and others from MakerCast, Sandvik Coromant, Autocrib and more. Think of us as your virtual community of manufacturing peers to help solve your toughest problems and grow your business. "Making Chips has provided a transparent approach to sharing within the manufacturing community and a modern platform to do so. Thank you both for taking the lead on moving our industry segment forward!" Patricia Miller - CEO & Visionary (Matrix IV) I really think what you guys are doing is a great, great thing for manufacturing. I have learned so much already from many of your episodes, and am so thrilled to have met people that get as revved up about manufacturing as I do! Cassandra Haupers – Vice President of Operations (Swiss Precision Machining) I love being able to experience what manufacturers are doing to promote culture and engage their team members and community. All of us are smarter than one of us. That is why I am part of the Making Chips tribe. Barry E. Walter, Jr. – Chief Operating Officer (Barry E. Walter, Sr. Co.) Finally, relevant manufacturing media that is actually entertaining! Dietmar Goellner – Chief Executive Officer (Advanced Machine & Engineering / Hennig) The more manufacturing companies we can get to think this way, the stronger our industry will be. Thank you for sharing! Jess Giudici – Manager, Talent and Culture I’m thankful to you for creating MakingChips for the Metalworking Nation so that Owners / Employees can strengthen their companies. Phil Sponsler – President (ORBITFORM) I love the podcast! It really serves to fill a void in the manufacturing world. I will admit I always feel a little more inspired. Jason Falk – Senior Application Engineer, CMTSE (HURCO) Thanks to all the great info on your podcasts and the website. Dave Lechleitner – Director of Solutions and Product Marketing (KEYEDIN) I really love what you guys are doing to advance the mfg industry in a way that really reaches the right audiences. Jeff Rizzie – Senior Manager-Business Development (Sandvik Coromant)
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Sep 17, 2019

How can the Metal Working Nation close the manufacturing skills gap? As the manufacturing industry continues to grow with the demand for fast and excellent production, it is imperative that the proper skills be found, fostered, and taught. Even with the desirable technological sophistication of the modern manufacturing world, young talent isn’t being found quickly enough to fill the gap left by the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. 

Jim and Jason brainstorm with guest speakers Hernan Ricaurte (Owner of Ricaurte Precision), Brian Grigson (General Manager of Axxis Corporation), and Brain Pendarvis (Owner of Pendarvis Manufacturing) about how manufacturing leaders can take action to influence the next generation of machinists. Be sure to listen to the entire episode to catch the best insights into the real and persisting problem of the manufacturing skills gap! 

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Putting a finger on the pulse of the manufacturing skills gap

Ricaurte, Grigson, and Pendarvis all agree that the skills gap is certainly a major issue of the modern manufacturing world. The “great wave” is here; the older are retiring and the younger aren’t qualified or aren’t interested. Pendarvis shares the struggle of finding talent skilled in the newest manufacturing technology. Leaders know that you can’t just stick anyone on your CNC machines. While the skills gap is a real and present problem, it doesn’t have to remain that way. 

Changing the perception of manufacturing is the first step. Most high schoolers don’t even know that trade school for CNC machining or similar work is an option. Many still think that they have to go to college to have a meaningful career. Manufacturing, however, offers so much at such little training cost. Building bridges with your community is the first step to closing the skills gap. Give presentations at the local middle and high schools, invite schools to tour your facilities and show them that what they need - and want - in a career can be found in manufacturing. “It’s not always money that people want,” says Grigson. A clean environment, security, incentives, and evident room for company growth are all attributes that can help your business attract young talent. 

Effective training is grounded in effective culture 

Who are you as a company? What is your niche? While there is a skills issue, it is important to only hire the skills that you need. What is your company culture? The culture that you want to foster within your business begins with you as the leader. One challenge created by the skills gap is finding someone who is not only talented but also a good fit within your company. Having more experienced employees shadow and oversee the work of new hires or interns provides the opportunity for not only the skills - but for the culture - to be taught. 

Ricaurte shares the lessons he learned from studying the manufacturing culture of Japanese machinists. Fostering a culture of accountability and excellence if key. Attention to detail, respect for one another, and the willingness to learn are all necessary to an effective workplace Training the younger generation within that culture will help produce the future talent that you need. Don’t forget to listen to the rest of the episode for more insight into fostering effective culture!

What makes a great modern machinist? 

It actually depends on the work and skill-set required! With the advancement of technology, the skill sets needed by manufacturers grows more diverse. While not everyone will be adept in all areas of machining, they always need to be willing to learn and grow. Curiosity is a sign of a great future machinist. While genuine curiosity, humility, excellent work ethic, and personal drive are all hard to detect in an interview, they should be attributes that you are striving to discover. 

Running an apprenticeship or internship program at your shop is also a highly effective way to discover and nurture new talent. Involve high schoolers in your company’s growth and demonstrate to them the future possibilities within manufacturing. Hiring part-time can also be a good tactic to see if you and your new employee are a good long-term fit. 

Finding and providing opportunity in unlikely places

Your local high school isn’t the only place to find potential future talent to invest in. Underprivileged communities are gold when it comes to finding young people with the passion and drive to try something unconventional - such as attending trade school to learn CNC machining. There are bright, curious minds everywhere! Many kids don’t know that manufacturing is even an option among today’s career paths. Manufacturing leaders need to begin investing in and inspiring the talent and ability of young people. 

Yes, the manufacturing skills gap is a problem, but it’s not insurmountable. Listen to the full episode to learn more about how you can make a difference in inspiring the next generation of manufacturers! 

Here’s The Good Stuff!

  • Preparing for the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. 
  • Do the challenges created by the skills gap affect all parts of the country equally? 
  • The tie between the skills gap and advancing technology. 
  • Knowing your niche gives you vision in knowing what talent to pursue. 
  • The challenges surrounding changing the old perception of manufacturing. 
  • Different strategies for finding the right fit. 
  • What you should be looking for in a potential hire. 
  • What you value may differ with each job opening. 
  • Creative inspiration for the next generation of manufacturers. 

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