There is a common thread running through the trade magazines and LinkedIn articles I read. The tooling shops are getting grayer and there is little new blood coming in. We at PlastiCert find ourselves smiling as we have some fresh bodies; but in general, it is getting slim pickings out there.
If you or a friend has or knows teens that like working with their hands, steer them to your local technical college. The next wave of toolmakers, CNC operators, and mold technicians could use some bolstering up. It appears we have an advantage here in outstate rural areas, as male and female teens are still exposed to both mechanical equipment and hands on chores.
In spite of that, our local technical college has room in their CNC Precision Machining Technology program, only 2/3rds of slots are filled. This is a little hard to fathom, considering their placement rate over the last three years is at 100%. There are not a lot of higher education programs out there that can brag 100% placement in a well-paying and secure job. In the context of a commodity, to learn skills in an area that is also experiencing a decrease of bodies and increase in competition bodes well not just for pay but also for employment choice.
If they develop an affinity for tool making, and possess some ability to learn more and higher levels of computer use, mold design might be in their future. Then even more opportunities present themselves, in both companies and pay.
So don’t rush to that 4-year university without an inward look at what makes you tick and what your goals for employment are. If I have an affinity for something, and the competition is greatly diminished in that field, why ignore that? Don’t follow the crowd follow your gut. Right to your nearest technical college and start learning about getting in, getting out and getting on with your life!