The skills gap in the machine tool industry


logo-CECIMOAccording to the forecasts of Cecimo (European Association of the Machine Tool Industries), the global machine tool consumption will grow from 60 to over 70 billion euro in the next five years and the metal-based additive manufacturing will quadruple by 2022. The association underlined that, owing to the integration of IT, electronics and mechanics, many machine tool building processes are digitized. The competences allowing to aggregate information between different areas such as planning, design, programming and production are the key for the competitiveness of the sector. But the pace of technological advances widens the skills gap in the machine tool industry. “While disruptive technologies provide new business opportunities for machine tool builders – explained the association – understanding the scope of technological changes occurring on different fronts and integrating them into their own business is a complex task and requires new skills. Technological advances made by actors beyond the machine tool industry often leave education providers in the sector with limited chances to catch up with disruptive innovations and widen the gap between the talent needed by machine tool companies to innovate and the talent they can actually find. For instance, additive technologies allow manufacturers to produce complex shapes and structures on-demand and to save significant amounts of resources by improving time-to-market. Nevertheless, the knowledge and the equipment needed to equip the workforce with relevant practical skills are not commonly available at education providers”.
Aware of the importance of bridging the gap, Cecimo has recently organized a panel on the theme “Raising Europe’s competitiveness through new skills”, in witch speakers from the European Institutions and industry representatives discussed the impact of new technologies on the manufacturing workforce. Besides, Cecimo with its national associations and education partners has launched a sector skills alliance, Metals, funded by the EU, aiming at improving the vocational education in the sector.