Creating a Pipeline of CNC Operators

Offering Entry-Level Manufacturing Employees the Chance to Acquire New Skills

Manufacturers are searching for CNC operators or machinists that have decades of experience to replace a retiring workforce. The challenge being, there is an extremely limited number of these individuals available.

Creating a Talent Pipeline of Next Generation CNC Operators and Machinists

The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) created a workforce solution for the state’s manufacturers. NJMEP received approval from the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) to offer the first registered Industrial Manufacturing Production Technician (IMPT) CNC Apprenticeship in the state of New Jersey. Manufacturers can sponsor employees to take part in the CNC apprenticeship through NJMEP’s Pro-Action Education Network™. The Pro-Action Education Network™ is a state-wide, scalable workforce development program that helps businesses upskill their current workforce while also helping them locate new talent to join the ranks.

“NJMEP developed an innovative, nationally approved Computer Numerical Control (CNC) program that is discovering – and then delivering – exactly what skilled workers are looking for in today’s career opportunities,” said Patricia Moran, Director of Apprenticeships, NJMEP. “Skilled machinists are the lifeblood for manufacturers, but the local labor pool of skilled workers has been tight.”

“There is a huge need for skilled machinists,” John W. Kennedy, Ph.D, CEO, NJMEP explains. “This is an investment for both the individual and the company and a great opportunity for students to obtain an education without incurring student debt while gaining a successful career foothold in manufacturing.”

Becoming a CNC professional takes a unique blend of hands-on experience, working knowledge of the fundamentals of machining, an understanding of the technology behind the equipment, and general manufacturing experience. These are the exact areas of focus in the IMPT CNC apprenticeship.

The breakdown of the 1.5-year CNC Apprenticeship program is available below:

  • 3,000 hours of on-the-job training and classroom training hours
  • Based on the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Production Technician Certification
  • Focuses on foundational production education with emphasis on CNC technology and CNC lab time
  • The program curriculum includes: Print Reading, Measurement and Industrial Math, CNC Milling Setup Operations and Programming, Machining Process, CNC Lathe Setup, Operations, and Programming

“The job options are virtually limitless,” Kennedy said. He goes on to offer examples of the breadth of industries these skills provide access to; aerospace, medical.

New Jersey employers that want to create excitement about the manufacturing industry, improve their recruiting efforts, or upskill their current workforce now have a partner. The NJMEP Pro-Action Education Network™ Apprenticeship Program is a way for employers to provide professional development opportunities. Furthermore, the Bridge to College Credits program, part of the Pro-Action Education Network™, allows employers to offer their apprentices college credits from the time spent in any NJMEP IMPT Apprenticeship Program.

Machining is becoming more complex and technology driven. This, coupled with the fact that it’s becoming less high school students entering the workforce have any kind of technical experience, requires businesses to turn to educational programs when recruiting.

Finding that perfect hire, the CNC operator or machinist with years of experience has become a challenging task. Instead, businesses are left with open positions as their wanted ads collect dust. The NJMEP IMPT CNC Apprenticeship Program is designed to give manufacturers a way to cultivate their pipeline of talented manufacturing professionals.

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