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The Automation Skills Gap and How to Fill It

Posted June 07, 2015 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

According to the Robotics Industry Association (RIA), there will be a need for 3.4 million skilled workers in the next 10 years, but a supply of only 1.4 million who are qualified. Key to reducing this gap is close cooperation between schools at all levels, industry, and government. Four-year college programs train engineers who can typically integrate electronics, mechanical design, and software. But there is also a need for technicians who can wire PLCs; install, program, and maintain robots; and integrate them in systems - skills learned at the two-year college level. This article gives examples and videos of real-world industrial robotics training programs.


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Guru

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: North West England
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#1

Re: The Automation Skills Gap and How to Fill It

06/08/2015 5:19 AM

This is a problem worldwide. Some suggestions about a solution.

Short term. India and China are currently the only economies producing a surplus of trained engineers. Import some. Issue work permits or green cards.

Medium term. Take this away from the politicians. As part of their recent successful election campaign, a UK Conservative Party policy is to create thousands of new training places to fill just this gap. Like most political promises it failed to take into account the situation that exists. There are not enough qualified trainers to train the existing college intake let alone radically increased numbers. You can train a technician in two years, but it takes ten years to gain enough knowledge and experience to deliver worthwhile training. Using pay and incentives to entice some of the current crop of engineers into training the next generation will initially make the situation worse. There will be no gain without some pain.

Long term. Change the perception about engineering and it's value to society. Part of this is about salary structure. A good engineer is as valuable and takes as long to train as a doctor, an accountant, or a lawyer, so they should get the same remuneration and kudos.

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Guru

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Haverhill, MA
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#2

Re: The Automation Skills Gap and How to Fill It

06/08/2015 6:56 PM

What is not mentioned is that many of the business that are crying about the lack of skilled workers today are the same companies that, twenty years ago, moved their manufacturing operations over-seas, and laid off all their skilled workers.

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Power-User

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Location: London NE, UK
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#3
In reply to #2

Re: The Automation Skills Gap and How to Fill It

06/09/2015 4:53 AM

What is also not mentioned is that companies gave up on training because it was easier and cheaper to use engineers trained by others or by other countries.

Current and past UK governments have done nothing to encourage students into engineering - maybe by tax breaks for sponsoring companies or, by educational grants to the brightest.

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