(HUTTO, Texas) – Astro Mechanics in Round Rock is one of the few manual machining shops in the Austin area, said Carrie Stemp, the company’s president.
“I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars looking in Texas, and I just don’t get anybody,” she said. “I may get one or two (potential employees), but they do not have experience in machining.”
Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology program on the East Williamson County campus in Hutto teaches both manual and computer numerically controlled machining processes.
Tim Hemesath, an instructor in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program, said machining is facing a growing skills gap that is leaving jobs open. He called it a good problem to have.
“If you like to work with your hands and have an entrepreneurial spirit, then this trade is for you,” Hemesath said. “You definitely always have a job until you decide to retire.”
Stemp said the company began using an employee search firm for the first time this month to find qualified job candidates. She said machining should be taught in schools to entice youth to pursue the field once they graduate.
Jobs for machinists are projected to grow to more than 405,000 through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas had more than 26,000 machinists in May 2018, according to the agency.
In the third quarter of 2019, there were more than 360 machinists working in Williamson County making an average mean annual wage of $44,100, according to Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area in Cedar Park. A majority of the county’s machinists work in machine shops, while others are in agriculture, construction and mining machinery manufacturing.
The agency predicts 74 jobs will be added in the next seven years in Williamson County.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.