While the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 9.8 million new jobs will be added to the United States economy by the year 2024, this statistic doesn't necessarily mean that all job sectors are expected to grow; in fact, with the advent of new technologies, some sectors and job categories are likely to shrink, if not disappear altogether.
Why are machine tool setter, operator, and tender jobs decreasing?
As technology continues to develop, machines in factories are automating, which means they generally require less human labor. Many workplaces use computer numerical controlled (CNC) machine tools or robots that decrease production costs by reducing or eliminating the need for in-person, hands-on work. Furthermore, many of the parts produced by plastic and metal machine workers are also manufactured overseas, and outsourcing of labor to other countries continue. However, even if political and economic conditions change and manufacturing companies stop outsourcing, workers are still at risk of being replaced, rendered obsolete by evolving technologies.
Other jobs and skills to consider in the future
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a sharp decline for tool setter, Machine Operator, and tender jobs, positions in this field that require experience with computer numerical controlled machines are expected to rise by 17 percent; after all, machines won't be able to automate completely. If you're looking to stay in the same field, pursue opportunities to become proficient in CNC machines and technology, or improve your skills by obtaining certifications in machine operations or plastics/metalwork.
Get around automation: fabricators, assemblers, and welders
Unlike jobs for machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, assembler and fabricator jobs are projected not to be affected by automation . Assemblers and fabricators work with blueprints to put together components, ensuring each part of a machine fits together correctly. Because assembler and fabricator jobs require extremely complex work with smaller materials and parts (and mostly in lower quantities), they're less likely to be replaced by automated machines and technologies over the coming years. Assembler jobs require the same attention-to-detail as machine tool operator and tender positions, as well as the ability to troubleshoot any unexpected problems that may arise. Both job fields also require familiarity with various types of machinery; that said, fabricators and assemblers primarily use drills and forklifts as tools.
Another job category that requires meticulous, tool-based skills is welding, soldering, and brazing. If you already have welding experience or a certification, you'll have a leg up: these positions require the same attention-to-detail as machine tool setters when it comes to efficiently assembling products using high heat. Welding jobs are expected to increase somewhat in the coming years, primarily due to rising demands for building infrastructure and the need for road construction and repairs.
Clean energy: the jobs of the future
While there are many already-established fields that share similar skills with metal and plastic machine tool workers, these same skills can be applied to an up-and-coming sector of the manufacturing industry: clean energy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, windturbine technicians, the fastest-growing job field by the year 2029 is set to be , showing a 61 percent increase due to rising (and extremely important) demands in the coming decades. Wind techs will need electrical and mechanical experience, skills similar to what many machine tool setters, operators, and tenders already have. Wind turbine technicians are also responsible for inspecting turbine towers, a task which echoes how setters, operators, and tenders must continuously monitor the machines they run.
As technology continues to evolve and consumer demands and priorities change, it's natural for jobs to do the same. Instead of hanging up your work tools, how can the skills you've acquired be transferred to other jobs. This kind of forward thinking will give you a leg up on future job searches, allowing you to make a change.
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