I can tell you that the requirements are as varied as the weather! You are correct when you say the machinist trade rarely develops the level of skill required to be a General Machinist. However there are exceptions to that statement. Today's shop sees two types of management structures, one has "centralized skill" at the programmer or setup-person level and above, and relatively unskilled labor at the machines. The other extreme involves shop-floor expertise, where "the operators possess more advanced machinists skills and know the intimate details involved in the machine." Both management structures work, but either way needs investment. The centralized-skill model requires capital investment in automation while the latter takes more training and personnel investment.
Machining operations that produce a product or large lot sizes can do well with the "operator" skill level, while a job shop environment with short runs and varying part configurations / material types can profit best by retaining / training machinists skill levels.
Over thirty years of practicing lean efficiencies have enabled me to provide the total package of work place management that matches employees' needs while also meeting product quality and delivery. I posses a unique ability to apply lean processes, while developing the best model to account for modern technology and lean-manufacturing principles, requiring the least amount of cost and investment. My permissive management style fosters integrity and pride while maintaining respect and discipline throughout the organization.
I can assess a shops efficiency / deficiencies in a afternoon! Its what I do! Anyone needing such support let me know!
Learn something new every day!