Companies and Institutions Push Educational Initiatives Forward to Close Skills Gap in Industrial Automation
From helping high school students in STEM to opening a new cobot center in a university, companies and universities continue to close the skills gap and up-train the next generation of engineers.
Industry-Wide Skills Gap
As industrial automation becomes more advanced, the need for engineers and technicians who can design and fix this type of infrastructure continues to grow. This growth has led to a critical skills shortage in software, smart technology, robotics, and IIoT components in industry.
To further stress the situation, employees who can fill these advanced roles are moving on to better opportunities within a short time of starting employment. Recently three companies/organizations, Bosch Rexroth, Epson, and Vincennes University, have taken a new approach to address the growing skills gap.
Bosch Rexroth's Event
This month, a special event was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, to showcase the value of technology and engineering jobs to students in the Olympic Community of Schools and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District.
Students learning about new tools in automation and robotics. Image used courtesy of Bosch Rexroth
The event was held at the Bosch Rexroth Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center at the Olympic Community of Schools in Charlotte, NC.
The event focused on teaching students of all ages the benefit of pursuing a job in a STEM-related field and explicitly working for one of the many leading manufacturers in the greater Charlotte area. The event has been part of an ongoing effort to fill the more than 7,500 manufacturing jobs and 85,000 unfilled STEM-related jobs in the region.
Epson's SCARA Robot Program
Epson Robots, known for their SCARA robot, recently created Epson RC+ Express. Epson RC+ Express is a visual-based teaching environment that could help manufacturers train technicians with little or no prior programming experience.
The course promises to get students from ground zero to proficient in Epson SCARA robotics programming in a short period of time.
Epson's G3 SCARA robots. Image used courtesy of Epson
Using a block-style format, the teaching environment is intended to make programming easy to learn for beginners, with the power and flexibility traditionally found in text-style programming languages. The Epson RC+ Express comes with different templates making it more straightforward for new learners to create basic pick and place, and palletizing programs.
Vincennes University's New Cobot Lab
Vincennes University has recently added to its Center for Technology, Innovation, and Manufacturing (CTIM), with a total of 11 new cobots. The cobot lab is part of the university's larger investment by VU to expand its STEM program.
VU partnered with local schools to help more students learn about the opportunities available in STEM-related careers.
A collaborative robot or cobot in the VU Jasper Cobot Learning Lab. Image used courtesy of Vincennes University
The CTIM can also show employers demonstrations, workshops and allow students access to emerging cobot technologies, applications, and models. It is all part of an $8M “Developing a Workforce Ecosystem for Industry 4.0 in Indiana” grant, funded by a Lilly Endowment Inc. initiative.
They are also working on cobot boot camps, and competitions to help interest people in STEM careers and are considering offering scholarships, credentials, and degrees in STEM-focused programming in the future.
Companies and institutions around the globe are continuously developing new training programs to help prepare the next generation of automation experts. They hope to provide these foundational skills now, so students and young professionals are ready to dive into the workforce.