“The future of work will be a race between education and technology”
Mauricio Macri – President of Argentina – host of G20, 2018
Despite the UK currently being the ninth largest manufacturing nation in the world, more than 80% of manufacturers are reporting difficulties in finding the right staff, according to the British Chamber of Commerce.
As manufacturers across the globe move toward new business models with data, cyber systems, cloud computing and technologies such as 3D printing at its foundations, employers are facing a global skills crisis due to the rapid pace of development of digital innovations and current gaps in the skills needed to adapt to these technologies.
Industry will need to find employees who can apply the principles of the technological revolution by being adaptive, agile and responsive whilst having the ability to solve complex problems with both critical thinking and creativity.
Research suggests that employment levels could thrive as employees could work in conjunction with new technologies via integrated thinking or ‘systems thinking’ instead of the perceived threat of the workforce being replaced by Industry 4.0 technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotics.
In order to remain at the forefront, especially in these politically uncertain times as the UK faces ambiguity surrounding Brexit, it is key to sustain our advantage and look to inspire the workforce of the future.
There is no doubt that one of the new emerging technologies of Industry 4.0 – additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing is becoming more mainstream with the technology permeating into a wide spectrum of industries including engineering, manufacturing, medicine, architecture, product design and even the food industry.
New job types are being created all the time as 3D printing develops and combines with other Industry 4.0 technologies.
Unfortunately, there is no current mandate for schools to develop the knowledge and skills required by industry within the curriculum and prepare young people for future careers in 3D printing.
The focus must therefore be to engage forward thinking educators to provide students with the opportunities to develop the skills they need to work within Industry 4.0 ready environments and become confident with the new technologies available to them.
Whilst this currently takes place within STEM/STEAM learning, the perception of STEM/STEAM career pathways amongst some educators, parents and students needs to be altered. Good STEM careers education, information, advice and guidance is key.
According to the UK government’s Industrial Strategy, the biggest growth in jobs will be in STEM industries.
“The generation coming through education now are very much “digital natives”, they’ve grown up in an environment where digital is a way of life. We’re looking to them to carry that use of digital into their careers.
To do this, we need to ensure that we provide both access to digital technologies and the needed learning to develop and build on that use of digital into their careers. Industry in particular needs skills in the use of digital technologies to ensure that the UK takes advantage of Industry 4.0 and those skills will need to come from a combination of upskilling the current workforce, and the “digital natives” now coming through their education.”
Steve Cox – 3D Technologies Consultant and CREATE Education Ambassador
STEM/STEAM learning should therefore not just be an extra-curricular add on, or an afterthought to the curriculum. It should instead be front and central as the key to developing skills necessary to achieve the UK’s industrial and economic goals and objectives.
“I was first introduced to 3D Printing some 27 years ago. As an artist, its been interesting to see how few people with arts backgrounds are in the 3D Printing industry.
Creativity and design thinking come easily to me as an artist and this ability has enabled me to help solve many applications for engineers and OEMs on their use of 3D Printing. I’m passionate to promote STEAM education, as Art is just as important as any other subject.
The youth in the UK are the Designers, Engineers and Artists of the future and we need to give them access to the amazing tool that is 3D Printing and the opportunities that this presents across all sectors of industry.”
Andrew Allshorn – Owner of AT 3D-Squared LTD, Vice President of AMUG and CREATE Education Ambassador
Some corners of industry are addressing this need by developing a new range of apprenticeships and on-the-job learning schemes.
Via the provision of technology-led capabilities and expertise, industry and education can work together to provide students with hands on opportunities to develop the skills required by industry alongside their standard curriculum delivery.
Students need to experience these ground-breaking technologies today, to futureproof UK manufacturing in a globally competitive marketplace, and maintain our place as the sixth biggest economy in the world.
“The current technology that is available, provides a once in a generation opportunity to address the skills gap and stimulate the appetite of stakeholders to make it happen.”
Paul Croft – Founder of CREATE Education and Director of Ultimaker GB