Shortage of skilled professionals for the metal industry

For several years now, companies in the metal and foundry industry have been striving to reverse a structural problem that could weigh heavily on the future of our sector. There is a lack of skilled workers to cover all the jobs that could be generated by industry, services and commerce within the metal sector. This week, the Gurelan blog explains why, now more than ever, it remains essential to continue investing in promoting a strong calling for the foundry industry among the new generations of students and professionals.

Shortage of skilled professionals for the metal industry

Die casting of Zamak and Magnesium parts is efficient, precise, generates little waste, and makes it the ideal choice for high quality mass production. Without die casting components, many of the products we use on a daily basis would be much more expensive, ranging from vehicles to household appliances.

A quick glance at the industrial die casting process suggests a powerful machine that automatically produces a series of shiny new parts, one after the other, with incredible results, in a short cycle and with no apparent need for human intervention. However, appearances can be deceptive. Today, the lack of skilled professionals and the shortage of adequately trained workers represent a major issue for the foundry industry, an industry driven by technical know-how and in full expansion all over the world: a shortage that students graduating from vocational training centres are far from being able to meet.

Die casting needs skilled professionals

As we already know and explained in other Gurelan posts, die casting is a very complex process. It involves a precise interaction between metal alloys, high pressures, rapid fluid flows, moulds featuring complex geometries, temperature variations, very accurate heat transfers, changes in the state of materials... Everything has to be perfect if you want to achieve high quality, uniform and repeatable results on every part. And of course you need to maintain, repair, and upgrade the machinery that makes possible the little industrial miracle which is the pressure die casting of a Zamak or a Magnesium part.

Here is the biggest contradiction: despite its economic relevance for countless industrial sectors (such as automotive, electronics, furniture...) and the highly technical nature of many foundry-related jobs, many people employed in the die casting industry start their career with little or no training. Something must be going wrong. 

From manufacture to design departments: global shortage of skilled professionals in foundry

For several years now, and like many other companies in the foundry industry, Gurelan understands that the shortage of skilled workforce can weigh on our future. There is a lack of suitably trained professionals to fill all the jobs that could be generated by industry, services and commerce in the metal sector. That is a fact. Both vocational training and specialised formation programmes are unable to meet the growing demand from companies requiring staff in traditional foundry professions and in specialities such as moulding, machining, boiler-making, welding, and so on.

However, that is not all. There is also a shortage of skilled professionals for product design, digitalisation, 3D technologies, supply chain management, process control, testing and trials, environmental and energy management, safety, corrective and predictive maintenance, data management, quality services, automation and robotics... Last but not least, there is also a lack of new workers for installation crews regarding plumbing, electricity, heating, thermal and acoustic insulation, telecoms, recycling and energy management, especially in the industrial sector. In other words, there is a lack of personnel to ensure the long-term operation of our factories and workshops.

These are fundamental processes for foundries such as Gurelan, which want to remain at the forefront of technology and maintain the level of competitiveness that makes them stand out, positioning them as suppliers of choice for some of the world’s leading manufacturers. The European foundry industry cannot afford to miss the train of technological transition and the shift towards sustainable energies, as we explained in our blog article Industrial digitalisation: a forward-looking major challenge.

If there is a shortage of skills in the foundry, all the metal industry is held back

The shortage of skilled personnel has a negative impact on innovation and the introduction of new technologies in the foundry sector, thus affecting the productivity and competitiveness that technological advances, globalisation and the elimination of borders require of an industry that has always been a stronghold in territories such as the Basque Country. A wider offer of skilled professionals would enable companies in the foundry industry, such as Gurelan, to fill jobs for more competitiveness, and thus create new ones in a sector that traditionally stands out for its great professional stability.

The leaders of tomorrow are being trained today. Forward-looking companies understand the true value and the need for skilled professionals, as this is the only way to keep progressing and innovating in a sector such as the foundry industry, where millenary know-how meets the most modern industrial and digital technologies.