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New ways to face the lack of skills in industry

George Walker explains how new automation systems can help manufacturers bridge the skills gap

The unpredictable times of the last few months didn’t just reveal how important automation technologies are, but also the importance that everybody in the factory has the right skills to use the necessary technologies. In this article, 

Whether it’s for maintenance or installing a new system, current engineers are required to have practical skills that are specific for their role, but now more than ever, there is a need for greater literacy with industrial IT. 

According to the latest Annual Manufacturing Report, 59% of respondents believe that the education system is not able to keep up with the pace of change in manufacturing technology. Schools are trying to ensure young people acquire more technological skills and encourage more people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. 

However, as technology advances more rapidly and new processes are introduced to industry quickly, there is no guarantee that these skills will still be useful when the students enter the workplace. 

During lockdown, this issue became even more evident as many UK and international students had to study from home and teachers had to suddenly change their programmes to make them accessible and comprehensible online. 

One of the main issues in studying from home was that students didn’t have access to schools’ facilities, such as laboratories, which are essential to get practical skills. 

But it’s not only a pre-career education that is stopping new engineers from working efficiently in a modern factory. 

The problem lies also with older generations that often do not fully understand how to use new systems in the factories as they are based on new computer language and features that old systems didn’t have. 

Business executives have to implement new strategies so that many generations can get the same skills and work together in a team in the best way possible. This is no quick process. Therefore, the key for the short- to mid-term is to find a way to bridge the skills gap, and one way to do this is to look to industrial software and automation with intuitive, user-friendly interfaces. 

To increase the digitalisation of UK and Irish factories and the skills of the workplace, Novotek UK and Ireland  is helping engineers, manufacturers and plant managers with intuitive manufacturing operations systems

Whether the plant manager has advanced industrial IT skills or not, these systems are designed to visualise data in a comprehensible way, while using advanced features to make comparisons and important evaluations about machine performance and the production line.

Certain systems are so intuitive and understandable that they allow different departments, including people who are working remotely, to cooperate.

Regardless of location or skills, everybody will understand what’s happening in the plant and they can plan the next action. It also allows everybody to build reports and search data using normal descriptive terms or categories without the need to be familiar with each specific data source in detail or be able to run complex queries. 

When plant managers implement a new system in a plant, they might need some training to become familiar with it. Novotek UK and Ireland is currently offering training to provide more practical insights about Operations Hub, but this is so simple to install and use that it can allow businesses to reap the immediate operational benefits while also lowering the entry barrier for technical staff.

As the world is continually evolving, it’s important that factories find new ways to keep working with the best team possible. Using old technologies can be complicated for everybody.

Instead, implementing systems that are accessible to any skills, is what we need today, while the world is still fighting against a pandemic that is changing economical, educational and political strategies. 

George Walker is managing director of Novotek UK and Ireland

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