Market Trends for Engineered and Natural Stone Industry Jobs

The stone industry is witnessing significant shifts in job market trends driven by technological advances and evolving consumer preferences. Engineered stone, known for its durability and versatility, is seeing increased demand in residential and commercial sectors. This surge creates numerous opportunities for skilled artisans and technicians adept at working with sophisticated CNC machinery

Meanwhile, natural stone remains highly valued for its timeless appeal and eco-friendly attributes, sustaining the need for traditional stonemasonry expertise. As sustainability becomes a priority, professionals who can balance innovative techniques with classic craftsmanship are particularly sought after, shaping the future landscape of stone industry careers.

Key Takeaways

  • The demand for engineered stone drives job growth for CNC operators and technicians.

  • Traditional stonemasonry remains essential for luxury and heritage projects.

  • Skills in sustainable practices and quality control are increasingly valuable.

  • Continuous professional development is crucial to stay competitive in the evolving stone industry.

Current Market Trends in the Stone Industry

current market trends in stone industry

Image Source: Epiroc

The stone industry is evolving rapidly, with notable shifts in product preferences and technological advancements. One prominent trend is the increasing demand for engineered stone, which combines durability and cost-effectiveness. 

This shift is shaping the future of the industry, particularly in residential and commercial construction sectors.

Increasing Demand for Engineered Stone

The stone industry has been experiencing a significant shift towards engineered stone products. This trend is driven by several factors, including the material’s durability, variety, and cost-effectiveness. Engineered stone, composed of quartz and other materials, offers consistency in quality and appearance, which natural stone sometimes needs to be improved. According to industry reports, the engineered stone market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.2% from 2024 to 2032, driven by robust demand in the residential and commercial construction sectors​.

Engineered stone’s popularity in kitchen countertops, flooring, and wall cladding has surged due to its non-porous nature, making it highly resistant to stains and scratches. Additionally, advancements in manufacturing technologies, such as CNC machining, have made producing complex designs and finishes easier, further enhancing its appeal to architects and designers. This increasing demand creates numerous job opportunities for skilled technicians, CNC operators, and installation experts within the stone industry.

Coping from the “Engineered Stone Ban

Despite the challenges posed by the engineered stone ban, significant strides have been made to keep the industry operational. The primary driver behind the ban is the health risks associated with respirable crystalline silica (RCS). Prolonged exposure to RCS can lead to silicosis, a serious lung disease. 

Governments and regulatory bodies have introduced measures to limit the exposure of workers to silica dust. These include stricter workplace safety regulations, mandatory use of protective equipment, and, in some cases, outright bans on high-silica-content materials.

The industry has had to adapt to these changes in several ways:

  • Material Substitution: There is a growing interest in alternative materials with lower silica content, such as sintered stone and porcelain.

  • Enhanced Safety Protocols: Companies are investing in better dust control technologies, such as wet cutting and improved ventilation systems, to comply with safety regulations and continue using engineered stone.

  • Innovation in Product Design: The industry is exploring new engineered stone formulations that reduce silica content while maintaining the desirable properties of durability and aesthetic appeal.

Sustained Interest in Natural Stone

Despite the rise of engineered stone, natural stone continues to hold a significant place in the market. The global natural stone market, including materials like marble, granite, and limestone, was valued at approximately USD 51.56 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.9% to reach USD 72.95 billion by 2032​. This sustained interest is attributed to natural stone’s timeless beauty, unique patterns, and eco-friendly attributes, which are highly valued in luxury residential projects, heritage restorations, and sustainable building initiatives.

Natural stone is particularly favoured for its aesthetic qualities and environmental benefits. For instance, white marble, known for its classic elegance, has grown in popularity for indoor and outdoor applications, such as pool areas and kitchen countertops​ (Natural Stone)​. Granite and limestone are also extensively used in flooring and wall cladding, providing a natural and sophisticated look that appeals to traditional and modern design sensibilities.

Comparison of Market Growth (2024-2032)

MaterialEstimated CAGRKey Applications
Engineered Stone5.2%Countertops, flooring, wall cladding
Natural Stone3.9%Flooring, memorial arts, wall cladding

The stone industry is witnessing dynamic trends with a growing preference for engineered stone due to its durability and versatility, while natural stone remains a staple for its unique aesthetic and environmental benefits.

Job Opportunities in the Engineered Stone Sector

Job Opportunities in the Engineered Stone Sector

Image Source: Monash University

The engineered stone sector is rapidly evolving with technological advancements, particularly CNC machinery, reshaping job roles. As the demand for precise and efficient stone cutting increases, the need for skilled CNC operators grows. This shift requires professionals to adapt to new technical skills and continuous learning for career advancement.

Technological Advancements

The advent of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machinery has profoundly influenced job roles within the engineered stone sector. CNC technology enables precise and efficient cutting, shaping, and finishing of stone materials, significantly reducing the margin for error compared to manual methods. As a result, the demand for skilled CNC operators has surged, creating many opportunities for professionals adept at handling this advanced machinery.

New Skill Requirements

One of the critical impacts of CNC machinery is the shift in skill requirements. Traditional stonemasonry relied heavily on manual skill and physical strength. However, operating CNC machines necessitates a firm grasp of computer programming, CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software and technical problem-solving skills. 

Professionals must understand machine code and be capable of translating complex designs into executable instructions for CNC equipment. Continuous learning and adaptability are essential as technology evolves and new software updates are released regularly.

A report by McKinsey highlights that by 2025, around 50% of all employees will need reskilling due to automation and digitization. It underscores the importance of continuous professional development for CNC operators to keep pace with technological advancements​.

Roles in High Demand

Due to the proliferation of CNC machinery, several roles within the engineered stone sector are experiencing high demand. These include CNC operators, quality control specialists, and installation experts.

  • CNC Operators: These professionals are responsible for setting up and operating CNC machines to perform various tasks such as drilling, grinding, and milling. They must read and interpret blueprints and mechanical drawings to ensure accurate production. CNC operators need a keen eye for detail, mechanical aptitude, and proficiency in using precision measurement tools​ (Manufacturing on Demand)​​ (Thomasnet)​.

  • Quality Control Specialists: It is crucial to ensure the final products meet the required specifications. Quality control specialists use callipers and micrometres to check dimensions and surface finishes. They must have a strong understanding of quality standards and be meticulous in their inspections.

  • Installation Experts: These professionals handle the on-site installation of stone products. They must be knowledgeable about different types of stone and their properties, ensuring that installations are performed correctly and securely.

Skills and Qualifications

The skills required for these roles are varied but interconnected. For CNC operators, proficiency in CAD software and a strong understanding of machine operation are essential. Quality control specialists need meticulous attention to detail and familiarity with quality assurance tools. Installation experts must possess practical knowledge of stone properties and installation techniques.

In Australia, the typical salary for a cnc machinist is around $80,759 per year or about $41.41 per hour. Beginners in this field usually earn about $71,887 per year, while those with more experience can make up to $98,800 per year.

Job Opportunities in the Natural Stone Sector

Job Opportunities in the Natural Stone Sector

Image Souce: AZoBuild

The natural stone sector offers diverse job opportunities, blending traditional craftsmanship with modern techniques. Skilled stonemasons play a crucial role in preserving heritage structures, while training programs ensure a steady influx of talented professionals. 

This dynamic field supports both cultural preservation and contemporary architectural projects, particularly in Australia.

Traditional Craftsmanship

Skilled stonemasons are pivotal in preserving heritage and luxury projects. Their expertise ensures that these structures’ intricate details and historical integrity are maintained. Heritage buildings, often listed or protected, require meticulous attention to detail and traditional techniques to restore and conserve their original beauty. This preservation effort not only maintains the buildings’ aesthetic and historical value but also supports cultural continuity​.

Stonemasons work on various projects, from repairing ancient churches to restoring intricate carvings on historic buildings. For instance, the restoration of St. Cuthbert’s Church involved extensive timber repairs and re-slating, demonstrating the breadth of skills required in this field​. Additionally, stonemasons often collaborate with other craftspeople, such as carpenters and conservators, to complete complex restoration projects​.

Training and Apprenticeship

Training and apprenticeship programs are essential for nurturing the next generation of stonemasons. These programs offer hands-on experience and mentorship from experienced professionals. Apprenticeships typically last several years and cover a range of skills, including stone cutting, carving, and masonry repairs. 

This rigorous training ensures that new stonemasons are well-prepared to take on the challenges of both traditional and contemporary projects​. Trade jobs in Australia often benefit from these well-trained professionals who maintain and enhance the country’s architectural heritage.

Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Practices

The growing emphasis on sustainability in the construction industry has significantly influenced the stone sector. There is an increasing demand for sustainable practices in stone cutting and installation, driven by regulatory requirements and consumer preferences. As the industry shifts towards greener practices, professionals with knowledge of eco-friendly techniques are particularly sought after​.

Eco-friendly stonemasonry involves using locally sourced materials to reduce transportation emissions and incorporating energy-efficient methods in the cutting and installation processes. Techniques such as dry stone walling, which consists of assembling stones without mortar, are traditional and environmentally friendly, as they allow for natural drainage and minimal disruption to the surrounding environment​.

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Future Outlook and Industry Predictions

Future Outlook and Industry Predictions

Image Source: cdkstone

The future of the stone industry hinges on the seamless integration of technology and traditional craftsmanship. Understanding these trends as the market evolves is essential for job seekers and companies alike. 

This section explores the balance of innovation and skill, as well as the training necessary to stay competitive in this dynamic field.

Integration of Technology and Craftsmanship

The stone industry is at a pivotal juncture where technology and traditional craftsmanship must coexist to meet growing market demands. Modern CNC machinery has transformed stone cutting, enabling precise and efficient production processes. These advancements are crucial for engineered stone, which has seen a significant increase in demand. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global market for engineered stone is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.4% from 2020 to 2027, driven by its durability and versatility.

However, the value of traditional stonemasonry must be considered. Stone industry jobs in Australia benefit greatly from the continued demand for natural stone, which is prized for its unique aesthetic and sustainability, requiring skilled artisans who can work with its intricacies. The challenge lies in balancing these innovative techniques with the age-old craftsmanship that defines the natural stone sector.

Predictions for Job Growth in Both Engineered and Natural Stone Sectors

  • Engineered Stone: The adoption of CNC technology is expected to create more specialized roles, such as operators, programmers, and maintenance technicians.

  • Natural Stone: There will be a continued need for traditional stonemasons, especially in luxury and heritage projects that demand high-quality artistry.

Skills and Training for Future Job Seekers

As the stone industry evolves, so do the skills required to thrive. Job seekers must stay abreast of technological advancements and continually hone their craft to remain relevant. Here are some emerging skills and training priorities:

Emerging Skills That Will Be Crucial in the Future Job Market

  1. Technical Proficiency: Proficiency in operating and programming CNC machinery is becoming essential. It includes understanding computer-aided design (CAD) software and having a solid grasp of automated processes.

  2. Sustainable Practices: As sustainability becomes a key consideration, knowledge of eco-friendly materials and techniques is increasingly valuable. The ability to implement sustainable practices in stone cutting and installation can set professionals apart.

  3. Quality Control: Ensuring the highest quality standards in engineered and natural stone products is critical. Skills in quality assessment and precision measurement are in demand.

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Final Thoughts

The stone industry is evolving rapidly, driven by technological advancements and a growing emphasis on sustainability. For job seekers and companies, staying competitive requires a balance of traditional craftsmanship and cutting-edge skills. 

Embracing technological innovations like CNC machinery and eco-friendly practices will be crucial in shaping the future landscape of stone industry careers. This will ensure a high demand for skilled professionals across both engineered and natural stone sectors.

Are you an employer in the stone industry seeking skilled professionals or a job seeker looking to apply your expertise in this dynamic field? At Dayjob Recruitment, we specialize in connecting top talent with leading companies in the engineered and natural stone sectors. Contact us today to discover how we can help you find the perfect match for your career or hiring needs.

Are you a job seeker looking for your next big opportunity? Click below to see how we can assist you in finding the perfect role.

FAQs

What qualifications do I need to become a CNC operator in the stone industry?

To become a CNC operator in the stone industry, you typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. However, many employers prefer candidates with post-secondary education in machining or a related field, such as a technical diploma or an associate degree. 

Additionally, proficiency in computer-aided design (CAD) software and experience with CNC machinery are highly valuable. Some positions may also require specific certifications in CNC operation or programming.

How does the stone industry address environmental sustainability?

The stone industry addresses environmental sustainability through several practices. These include using locally sourced materials to reduce transportation emissions, adopting energy-efficient manufacturing processes, and implementing eco-friendly techniques such as dry stone walling, which minimizes the use of mortar and allows for natural drainage. 

Companies also increasingly use recycled stone materials and employ sustainable quarrying practices to minimize environmental impact.

What career advancement opportunities are available in the stone industry?

Career advancement opportunities in the stone industry vary depending on your expertise. Advancements for CNC operators and technicians can lead to roles such as CNC programming, maintenance supervision, or production management. Traditional stonemasons can advance to project manager, site supervisor, or conservation specialist positions. 

Continuous professional development and obtaining additional certifications can also open doors to higher-level positions and specialized roles within the industry.

Interested in how we can support your role as an employer? Click below to learn more.

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