T-SEC > CNC Machining  > Hipster Blue Collar Jobs Attract Millennials and Gen Zers

Hipster Blue Collar Jobs Attract Millennials and Gen Zers

As the economy continues to surge forward, the surprising news isn’t that manufacturing growth in the United States is growing.

It isn’t even that blue collar job employers can’t find enough workers.

The surprising news is that CNC Machining jobs and other typically blue collar jobs are attracting a new breed of Millennial and  Gen Z worker: hipster blue collar workers.

Blue-collar millennials and Gen Z’s think differently.

Whether it’s a side hustle running an affiliate store on Amazon or a CNC machining Podcast, like Machinist Therapy Hotline where hosts Shane, Jody, Tony and Albert “dive into the world of manufacturing, covering topics picked by YOU! With a no BS approach,” millennials are proving themselves to be creative thinkers who are leading different, more innovative lives than their parents.

This new crop of blue-collar workers came up during the Great Recession. They watched parents, neighbors and friends’ parents get laid off, lose houses, even lose marriages in the wake of financial disruption.

They saw friends drive off to college only to graduate and drive back home to live with mom and dad, swimming in a pool of college debt, and working at a local retailer, itself a target of Amazon disruption.

The promise of white collar jobs at Fortune 500 institutions and the lure of an upwardly mobile career path seemed a fantasy or a joke.

These young adults don’t trust the usual sources of traditional advertising, either. In a study released by Harris Interactive, digital natives (which Millenials and Gen Z’ers are.) dislike being targeted by brands in their social feeds but they trust their networks, communities and influencers far more than older generations do.

Millennials and Gen Z respond to influencers.

Instagrammers with a focus on CNC Machining are gaining popularity as niche influencers

Apparently, the Internet is the one thing these two groups cannot live without. In addition to locating information, both groups use social media to discover how brands are promoting themselves and, most important, who is promoting and recommending those brands.

If you are on Instagram, Twitter, and to a degree, Facebook, you have, of course, encountered influencer posts.

An influencer is an individual who has managed to create a huge following, let’s pivot to the default example: Kim Kardashian West.

She invites you into her life and she features products and hashtags accordingly with “#sponsored” in the post in compliance with FTC rules for influencers.  Instagram introduced a “Paid Partnership with” tag in March 2017 which highlights sponsored content to let visitors to a feed know they were the target of paid, persuasion-based, marketing content.

The rise of the Micro Influencers in the field of Blue Collar Jobs.

barbiethewelder an Instagram blue-collar welder who has gained a niche following

Barbara Parsons Instagram Influencer is a professional welder


Micro-influencing is also on the rise.

Niche areas are emerging in the Blue Collar social media sector, and feeds like  @barbiethewelder which is a feed belonging to Barbara Parsons a young woman with nearly 56,000 followers is an example of some of the lesser-known personalities with smaller numbers of followers than, say Kardashian-West.

According to Wikipedia, Barbara Parsons, known professionally as Barbie the Welder is an American metal sculptor. Her work achieved prominence after being publicized on social media. She has produced sculptures for a number of significant clients, and run welding exhibitions at trade fairs.

Barbiethewelder is from Elmira, New York, and was influenced by her father, a self-described jack of all trades from whom she learned about drywall fitting, roofing, and electrical installations. 

A path to fullfillment.

She started her career in 2007, saving $1,200 to attend a local BOCES welding program. She was subsequently hired at Cameron Manufacturing and Design, where she worked as a sheet metal fabricator, per her account, this saved her from a bad marriage, poverty, and despair and set her on a path to fulfillment.

Barbara and others like her are influencing large numbers of millennials who like the fit, active life, and what they view as a liberating work life. She and others are reaching viewers, followers, and fans feeds across the socials where they are actually promoting more than a job.

They are promoting a lifestyle.

CNC Machining: gaining as a lifestyle niche on the socials.

Today, as the manufacturing economic sector continues to grow, a necessary specialty in that sector, CNC Machining, is attracting young Millennials and Gen Z’ers who, like Barbara Parsons want the freedoms they think a counter-cultural, blue-collar career can provide.

To them blue-collar work has transcended the realm of employment and has become a lifestyle, one that offers freedom from college degree debt, and diplomas with a lot of promise but little income delivery; freedom from a desk job; freedom from a shirt, tie, skirt, heels and whatever else makes up the uniform that is supposed to guarantee financial success and upward mobility.

Endless feeds of blue-collar machinist and welders, brawny guys and gals who appear to spend hours at Crossfit and the tat parlor, and lots of time shopping and consuming paleo foods, or, alternatively Beyond Burgers ,are gaining hundreds of thousands of followers.

#dirtyhandscleanmoney is an Instagram hashtag that enjoys wide distribution. It attracts worldwide blue collar millennials and Gen Z'ers who reject desk jobs, like working with their hands and view themselves as innovators

#dirtyhandscleanmoney trends every day on Instagram


Take Adam Demuth of Strasburgh, Ohio who as  @adam_the_machinist has 11,000 + followers and posts which can get 42,000 views for a machining video tip. He offers sage advice such as the following which followed a brief but detailed video:

This doesn’t affect that many people but it’s worth mentioning. Sandvik grinds a back taper into their endmills to help combat deflection related taper. They don’t really mention that in their literature and it took some detective work to uncover.

Every once in a blue moon I’ll have a part that has a tight enough tolerance and light enough deflection that this becomes an issue and a resulting taper is cut into the part. For the most part, I enjoy the benefits of the back taper but today it stung me.

#instamachinist#toolmaking #machining#cncmachining #cncmachining#toolmaker #machinist 

The above hashtags are the way that Adam marks up his post for wide distribution for anyone who has self-identified as having an interest in those topics. There are a lot of people raising their hands and saying “me,” and so Instagram delivers Adam’s content to them.

On Instagram, a movement is also taking off around the hashtag: #dirtyhandscleanmoney, attracting hundreds of thousands worldwide, mostly young, and all interested in various aspects of Advanced Manufacturing, whether machining, welding, or 3D printing

Some parents still think of blue collar work as something very early 20th century but Millennials know better Some parents still think of blue-collar work as something very early 20th century but Millennials and Gen Z’ers know better

CNC Machining saved my life

Titan Gilroy

Like Barbara Parsons,  CNC Social Media Guru and Influencer, Titan Gilroy, is a former heavyweight, top champion boxer and a convicted felon, who credits a blue-collar job, in his case CNC Machining, with saving his life.

His story goes something like this: he was 22 years and was sent to a lockdown cell and given 16 years after getting into an alcohol-fueled altercation in Las Vegas. He served 3 years of his term eventually landing a job making $9 an hour at a machine shop where he learned and honed his now incredible skills.

Titan Gilroy thinks Computer Numerical Control (CNC) is a way forward to addressing many of our societal ills, including criminal recidivism, skilled craft training.

He also thinks it can amplify interest and introduce youth to manufacturing and he said as much to a recent keynote to some of the USA’s top military generals at a defense manufacturing conference held in 2018.

In terms of technical education, Titan explained, while big money goes into school curricula, there is no national standardized curriculum.


Beautifully machined part made by Ceres Technologies in Saugerties

Beautifully machined part made by Ceres Technologies in Saugerties


This is a problem, Tian maintains, for advanced manufacturing as a whole. United States manufacturing simply will not prosper without uniform training, and of course, it must be state of the art to compete globally.

So, since he’s a fixer, Titan fixed that.

He has a well subscribed-to Youtube channel called Titans of CNC.

The channel is run as an Academy and the subscriber base is around 125,000 and quickly growing with tons of engagement.

The Academy offers video instruction and advice regarding:

  • 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD),
  • Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM)
  • CNC machining

Titan starts with basics such as mill and lathe fundamentals and moves up through a full teaching series including making a chess set, learning 5 axis machining, and producing aerospace connections.

CNC Machining in the Hudson Valley

If you are a Hudson Valley Millennial or Gen Zer, or if you are anybody in the Hudson Valley interested in employment and job opportunity in the exciting field of Advanced Manufacturing, this article may have piqued your interest in a possible blue collar job in the exciting career subspeciality of CNC Machining.

The opportunities in the Hudson Valley for training and employment are abundant and that is great news!

We have taken the time to break down some of the basics of CNC machining so you may gain an overall idea of what it is and how it is integral to manufacturing.

We also offer information on which Hudson Valley SUNY Schools are offering CNC training, whether in depth or as an introduction to the field. We have included County BOCES offerings as well.

Bits and pieces fly off a part being machined at Fala Technologies

Bits and pieces fly off a part being machined at Fala Technologies

What is CNC machining?

CNC machining is a subtractive machining process that is pretty much the exact opposite of 3D Printing, an Additive Manufacturing process which builds the manufactured parts industry produces by adding (printing) layer upon layer of material until the engineered, finished piece is achieved.

Up until twenty or thirty years ago, machining was typically done on a manual machine.

Metal or other material, such as wood, was cut using hand cranks and spindle cranks to rotate on the x, y and z axis in order to make the right cuts to “machine” a part.

When somebody said “crank it up,” that’s exactly what they meant.

Now, commonly, advanced manufacturers use CNC Machines.

A CNC Machine is a computer numerical controlled (CNC) machine which, like a manual piece of equipment, enables axis of movement to cut a block of material.

Only instead of this movement being created by the equipment and its operator, a motor, enhanced by a computer controls the axis of movement, automagically!

The movement is dictated by lines of code known as G codes and M codes.

These codes are derived from popular CAD systems such as Solidworks or Fusion 360 which have specialized conversion editors that can convert a design into a toolpath designed by a code or programming language that the machine’s computer understands.

In this way a CNC enabled machine and a 3D Printer can be said to be the same, as specific instructions are assigned to the design by way of code that the computer doing the work understands.

In terms of run time, a shop’s manual machine is left behind in the smoke so to speak because CNC machining runs super fast and non-stop.

This manufacturing method is so named because it creates things by whittling away from a solid block of material.

Hudson Valley advanced manufacturers (and T-SEC partners) like Fala Technologies and Ceres Technologies, use this technology for manufacturing the many products they produce as equipment suppliers to OEM’s, or original equipment manufacturers.

Companies like Tesla or Sikorsky Aircraft are original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) and both of our Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing partners are b2b suppliers to such end users.

Types of CNC machines

In subtractive manufacturing, generally speaking, you will find fabrication houses typically use the following  seven types of CNC machines, each of which have different methods and purposes :

CNC Electric Discharge Machines:

Electric discharge machining, aka EDM, uses an electric current to erode the metal.

The material is subtracted from a particular substance by progressively repeating electrical releases between two anodes.

This is popularly used to fashion an odd shaped, for instance, an awkwardly placed hole in a metal part.

CNC Grinders:

A grinding machine, called “grinders”, is a machine that controls the motion of the grinder and produces the required shape, making parts quickly and with more uniformity by using an abrasive wheel as the cutting tool.

The abrasive rotary wheel cuts material into shape by grinding it.

CNC Lathes:

The lathe is used to create precise conical and spherical shaped parts. Lathes use a cutting tool to shave excess material as the material rotates on a spindle.

CNC milling machines:

Possibly the most popularly used CNC machines. Milling machines use rotary cutters to create pieces as designed. They are programmable, providing required depth, angle and cutting direction.

CNC Routers:

These machines are for crafting custom-made implements..

The routers are usually used to produce bigger parts, like cutting wood, plastics and sheet metal.

CNC Plasma Cutters:

CNC plasma cutters are similar to CNC routers in size and setup.

CNC plasma cutters use a high temperature to melt or to make an incision. The cutters cut 2-dimensional profile shapes into sheet metal.

CNC Water Jets:

Water Jet cutters are industrial tools which can cut various materials using a high-pressure jet of water, and sometimes a mixture of water and an abrasive substance.

Abrasive jet cutting cuts hard materials such as metal or granite.

Pure waterjet or water-only cutting uses no added abrasives and is used for softer materials such as wood or rubber. The process of doing this is called water jet cutting.

The Need for trained “hipster” CNC Machinists in the Hudson Valley

There are many companies in the Hudson Valley that survived economic downturns and have gone on to thrive as Advanced Manufacturers meeting the manufacturing needs of all kinds businesses in all kinds of economic sectors.

However, awareness about the need for well-trained technicians in areas of production such as CNC Machining is limited, and this has affected the labor supply.

Council of Industry a great resource for job training and job information

Locally, in the Hudson Valley, machine jobs can be found on a listing site offered by The Council of Industry, a Newburgh, N.Y. based manufacturer’s association that promotes the success of member firms, most of which are manufacturers.

The Council does this by making training available and also by focusing on a workforce development initiatives (WDI) which helps attract and retain a skilled workforce.

The Council also works on behalf of Manufacturers to raise awareness about manufacturing in the Hudson Valley,

Apprenticeship Program

In particular The Council of Industry is administrating a pilot program which helps register and train apprentices in manufacturing occupations. The program is done in tandem and in support of the New York State Manufacturing Alliance Apprenticeship Program

The Council Industry (as well as T-SEC) also works in support of the many Hudson Valley Boces and two year Community Colleges that are filling a gap in needed training by offering programs designed to fill workforce training needed by employers and potential employees.

Want To Become a CNC Machinist?

Here is a list of classes offered by T-SEC partner schools, associates, and other New York State Entities:

Dutchess County BOCES

Dutchess County BOCES offers many kinds of skills-based training programs one of which focuses on machining. The program is an intensive, boot-camp style program which offers an overview of the necessary skills to perform CNC machining.

Students can expect to learn:

Metal cutting

The course promises to prepare students for the following jobs:

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machinist
CNC Machine Operator
CNC Lathe  Operator
CNC Mill Operator
CNC Operator
Machine Operator

Orange/Ulster County BOCES

Orange County Boces offers many kinds of skills-based training programs.

This program emphasizes the design and production aspects of CAD (computer-assisted design) for the fields of engineering and architecture. Thus, a two-year certificate holder would be able to work in advanced manufacturing preparing the CAD files necessary for machining.

Topics of Study – Architecture:

Residential House Design ƒ
Surveying ƒ
Site Plans ƒ
Civil Engineering ƒ
Commercial Site Design ƒ
Building Plan Development ƒ
Electrical/Plumbing/HVAC Planning ƒ
Modeling Houses ƒ
3D Printing ƒ
Plotter Printing

Topics of Study – Engineering: ƒ

Design Process ƒ
3D Drawings: Parts, Assembly, Presentation, Sheets ƒ
3D Printing/Rapid Prototyping ƒ
CG Rendering ƒ
CnC (computer controlled) Milling ƒ
Product Design/Manufacturing ƒ
Mechanical Engineering ƒ

Rockland County BOCES

This Boces mentions it offers CAD/Architectural in the Vocational and technical options, but does not go into specifics. Click the link above.

Putnam Northern Westchester County BOCES


Architectural Design & Modeling is a college prep course for students in engineering and architecture with opportunities in the automotive, aerospace, industrial industries. Students will learn:

State of the art 3d modeling and CAD design programs
Have use of 3D printers
Laser scanners and CNC machinery to create design

We don’t just ask our students to solve a problem; we ask them to define what the problem is. Along the way, our students develop a way for producing creative solutions. This process requires collaboration across disciplines drawing on methods from engineering and design, the arts, and the business world

Sullivan County BOCES

Precision Machining is a process where a piece of raw material is cut into a desired shape and size by a controlled material removal process using various machine tools such as lathes, milling machines, drill presses or CNC machines.

The Precision Machining Program prepares students with the skills and experience to enter a variety of machining fields as an entry-level machinist or as an apprentice. The majority of our students continue their studies at college to enter the workforce at a higher level.

Students will learn to safely set up and operate machine shop equipment such as lathes, mills, drill presses, grinders and computer numerical control (CNC) machines.

In addition, they will learn computer software programs to design and create parts and products to sell.

For  more information, view the Program Brochure

Ulster County BOCES

Ulster County Boces offers many kinds of skills-based training programs, but unlike other BOCES, it does so in partnership with SUNY Ulster.

Local manufacturers and SUNY Ulster have partnered together to create a pipeline of skilled workers to meet the hiring needs of manufacturing employers and to prepare local job seekers with the skills needed to get self-sufficient jobs in manufacturing.

SUNY Ulster course:

MACHINING & PRODUCTION I 105 hours Hands-on study of machine shop practices in this course, includes the care of precision instruments, maintenance of lathes and milling machines, operation of lathe controls, filing, deburring, polishing, use of digital readout, use of micrometer, dial indicators, and pitch micrometers. IND 141 T/R 10/3-1/16 4-8pm CT

SUNY Ulster course:

MACHINING & PRODUCTION II 105 hours Advanced functions of a lathe and milling machine, including use of hand and precision tools required for operation, are presented in this course. Prerequisites: IND 141 or equivalent experience IND 142 T/R 10/3-1/16 4-8pm CT

Ulster BOCES Courses:


This is a 96-hour class providing students with entry level CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine operating skills. The first 12 hours gives the student an introduction to machining including shop safety, blueprint reading; precision measurement and inspection. Students will progress to hands-on CNC machine operation including setup, operation, and tool-holding on CNC lathe and CNC milling machines. The final 24 hours of class time are devoted to learning CNC programming in G and M Codes. MF202-1718CT T/R 10/3-1/14 4-8pm CT $999


Validate your skills and increase your value in the workplace by training to become certified in Mastercam®, the industry’s leading CAM system. In this 82-hour program, you will work on milling, 2-D and 3-D tool path, lathe parts drawing and tool path, wire frame, and solids. At the conclusion of the course, you will sit for the national Mastercam® Certification exam, which includes machining a piece that you have created in wire-frame. MF105-1718CT T/R 10/3-12/19 4-8pm CT $999


The Mastercam® Professional Level Certification is a reliable validation of your skills, knowledge, and the application of Mastercam® functionality within a set amount of time. A student should attain the Mastercam® Associate Level Certification before taking the practical Professional Level Certification exam. MF105-1718CT T/R 10/3-12/19 4-8pm CT $999

G- CODE PROGRAMMING This 40-hour course is designed for the experienced manual machinist who seeks to learn how to write G-Code programs to control the operation of CNC machines. Basic shop math, computer skills, and machining experience required. Please bring a calculator with trigonometric functions to class. MF102-1718CT T/R 10/3-11/2 4-8pm CT $999 UB UB UB UB S

The ULSTER BOCES MANUFACTURING LAB offers customized enrollment to meet the needs of the employer, employee and employment seeker. To determine start date, time and tuition obligation call 845-331-5050 to schedule an admissions interview.

SUNY Dutchess (Dutchess Community College)

Manufacturing Programs

Statistical Process Control

This course introduces the student to basic statistical tools for quality control and improvement.  The course begins with the fundamentals of sampling methodology, probability concepts, and probability distributions.

Statistical Process Control (SPC) is then discussed in depth, including Control Charts, Process Capability, Repeatability and Reproducibility (R&R), and Statistical Design of Experiments (DOE).  Strong emphasis is placed upon the use of statistical software for data analysis and problem solving.

Geometric Tolerancing

The student will become conversant in the techniques of GD&T to the latest ASME standard.  The student will be able to interpret GD&T drawings to manufacture and inspect production. The student will understand design requirements, uniform design practice, how to ensure parts interchangeability, and how to ensure fit, form, and function of production parts.


Students will learn to program and operate Computer Numerically Controlled machines to produce manufactured parts in today’s modern high-tech factories.

Blueprint Reading

Make specifications make sense. Learn the basics of manufacturing prints, views, tolerances, dimensions, threads, machine terms and more. (12 hours)

Basic Electricity

Power up your capabilities! Students will learn the basics of electricity, safety procedures, measurement instruments, AC/DC, National Electric Code, low voltage wiring and schematics. (30 hours)


SOLIDWORKS is the global standard for 3D solid modeling enabling fabricators and engineers to draw and fabricate models, parts and assemblies. DCC offers programs for Essentials, Professional and Administrative levels which can lead you through an escalating level of expertise in this most valuable program.

SUNY Rockland (Rockland County Community College)

Certificate program

The certificate provides students with the skills needed to create, edit and produce basic design drawings using SketchUp, SolidWorks and AutoCAD programs. Students learn how to solve design challenges and express their ideas in drawing form.
Program Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

Create and edit accurate 2D and 3D architectural and mechanical drawings using computer-aided drafting software
Understand the symbols, tools, and terminology of the drafting field
Create professional drawings that can be used for the construction and production of architectural and engineering projects
Understand the principles of design and problem solving

Career Skills Academy

In 2019 Rockland Community College launched its Career Skills Academy in order to help adults looking to re-enter the labor force or switch careers pursue jobs that require more education than a high school diploma, but less than a college degree in the Hudson Valley Region.

The Academy offers a number of different certificate programs, one of which is a CAD program that could lead someone into working in support of CNC Machining.

Cad/Drafter 3D Modeling Program.


Intro to Auto CAD
Intro to Drafting / Intro to  Solid Works
Intro to Design with Computers (Sketch Up)
Principles of 3D Printing

SUNY Ulster (Ulster Community College)

Certificate program

Manufacturing companies moving into the Hudson Valley are looking for skilled workers. SUNY Ulster is pleased to offer these programs and courses for students interested in pursuing a manufacturing career as well as for those looking to build their skill sets.

Contact Barbara Reer or Deborah O’Connor for more information regarding this training at 845-339-2025.

Electrical Theory
Certified Production Technician (CPT)*
Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)
Manufacturing Technology Certificate Program
Mechatronics Fundamentals
Industrial Technology: Manufacturing Technology
CNC Programming – Mill and Lathe

*Certified by the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC), this program provides certifications to those who have mastered core competencies of manufacturing from entry level through a font-line supervisor.


SUNY Westchester(Westchester Community College)

Advanced Manufacturing

Advanced Manufacturing at Westchester Community College Earn Industry-Recognized Credentials.

Introduction to Manufacturing

This non-credit course will provide introductory level knowledge of safety, personal protection, machine guarding, precision measurement, job planning, benchwork and layout. Upon successful completion, participants will be eligible to take the industry recognized National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) Certifications in Measurement, Materials, and Safety and Job Planning, Benchwork and Layout. 63 hours.

Advanced Manufacturing: CNC Milling Operator

Learn Basic Machine Tool Techniques and Introductory CNC Milling Maintenance and Operation. Will be eligible to take NIMS certification exam Machining Level I CNC Milling: Operations. Prerequisite: Intro to Manufacturing or equivalent experience.CE-TECH 2036. 63 hours. $882 (+textbook +fees)

Advanced Manufacturing: CNC Turning Operator

CNC Milling Operator Learn Basic Machine Tool Techniques and Introductory CNC Milling Maintenance and Operation. Will be eligible to take NIMS certification exam Machining Level I CNC Milling: Operations.

Have a question about CNC machining?

Contact us! T-SEC has seasoned engineers on standby who can also answer general questions about CNC Machining.