The need to identify and fill the skills gap in industry is being addressed at many levels. At national level, for example, the UK government is establishing a number of high-quality institutes of technology (IoTs). These are a collaboration between employers, Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) providers. Their task is to bridge the gap between education and industry and deliver STEM subjects (at levels 4 and 5), in order to produce a highly skilled workforce with a clear route to technical employment. In Scotland, the Advanced Manufacturing Challenge Fund – jointly overseen by Scottish Enterprise, ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and Scottish Government – is intended to support Scottish SMEs in making a long-term transformational change through upskilling and reskilling the workforce.
Private companies, including Festo, have also taken action to nurture a workforce equipped with the skills they need to flourish in the future. As an OEM manufacturer ourselves, we are very aware of the need for a broad skills set, which not only embraces technical understanding but also includes other life skills. Through our training company Festo Didactic, we work as a partner / supplier with educational establishments and large companies that do a lot of in-house training to develop a “fit for purpose” package of training hardware, learning materials and support.
Our ultimate aim is to educate the workforce in Industry 4.0 and digitalisation. To achieve this goal, it is vital that students have a thorough understanding of the all the technologies and progress through the disciplines in a systematic and logical way. This starts with the technology of mechatronics (fluid power and PLCs), moving into the application of mechatronics (modular production systems and robotics), to Process Automation and finally Industry 4.0 (CP systems in the Cyber Physical Factory).