While there has been a HUGE emphasis on 3D printing in the classroom, the 3D printing jobs that are being promoted in academia simply don’t exist. A thorough search on Monster.com, Indeed.com, Job.com and Career Builder (see Tables 1 and 2 below) for 3D printing jobs found only a handful nationwide (This search was for “3D Printing technicians”, requiring no other degree or experience). Many of those jobs were from the manufacturers of 3D printers, not their industrial counterparts. This makes it impossible for someone to go from the classroom to job market solely on 3D Printing skills developed in school. However, a job search of “Machinist” came up with literally 10’s of thousands of jobs nationwide; so, a student learning machining in school can get employed after graduation in a job that exists today.
My opinion is that we need to put an emphasis where the jobs exist. Currently, there are nearly 600,000 manufacturing jobs vacant, according to BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), with nearly 2 million jobs (Update: Manufacturing jobs are to outpace earlier projections by at least 20% by 2025**) to be unfilled in the next decade in manufacturing. These jobs include welders, pipe fitters, machinists, laborers and much more. This gap will only increase if we don’t start teaching students the right knowledge they need to pursue and succeed in these careers.
With upwards of 20,000 baby-boomers leaving the workforce daily and a vastly insufficient number of workers coming in behind them to learn the skills the retiring baby-boomers possess, we are setting America and our students up for failure. This is not a new concept – trade magazines and journals have been talking about the looming “skills gap” for nearly as long as I’ve been in manufacturing (that’s 20 years for those who are keeping count). In fact, the “skills gap” crisis is how the idea of founding Leading Edge Industrial came about.
Our goal at LEI Tech is to provide schools and educators the equipment, training, and tools necessary to create a technology program that would rival any manufacturing company, just on a smaller scale. We make the argument that, while you could go and buy a single full-size CNC machine from Haas, Hurco, Mazak, and countless others, for the same dollar amount you can outfit your classroom with 10-12 of our machines, all while taking up less space than the full-sized industrial CNC machine and requiring no modifications (power, exhaust, renovations, etc.) to your existing classroom. This would allow 10-times the amount of student throughput on your equipment and train them for jobs that actually exist in the workforce today.
While 3D Printing is unique and does solve problems in rapid prototyping, it will not be a replacement for the way products are manufactured. The process is still too slow and inaccurate. As Career and Technical Educators, we need to be preparing our students for not only a general education but one that has prepared them for real jobs.
The tables below list the jobs found in the largest populated cities (Table 1) and top 10 manufacturing states (Table 2):
|Cities with Largest population in the US||3D Printing Jobs||CNC Machining Jobs|
|New York, NY||(1) MakerBot software engineer||13|
|Los Angeles, CA||0||100+|
|Chicago, IL||(2) Sales of 3D Printers||100+|
|San Antonio, TX||0||2|
|San Diego, CA||(3) 3D Fluids Chemist for HP Manufacturer of 3D Printers||50+|
|San Jose, CA||14||100+|
|Top 10 Manufacturing States in US||3D Printing Jobs||CNC machining Jobs|
|Georgia||(4) HP Internal 3D Printing Team||150+|
By far the largest amount of 3D Printing jobs found in one place on Monster were in Somerville, MA.
They were almost all working for a manufacturer of 3D Printers or for outside sales/repair for 3D Printing.