What does UK Manufacturing need right now?
Posted by Bert Maes on March 13, 2010
While waiting for a plane between Romania and Belgium, I spent my time with reading 3 manifestos on the future of UK manufacturing: (1) Ingenious Britain, Making the UK the leading high tech exporter in Europe, A report by James Dyson, March 2010, (2) The Royal Academy of Engineering’s “Making Things Better” Campaign, 2008 and (3) Manufacturing. Our future. Building a balanced economy on a secure manufacturing base, from the EEF, the manufacturers’ organization, July 2009.
And it was a worthwhile read, that’s for sure. To make it easy and quick for you, I SUMMARIZED these reports, with a FOCUS ON the tasks and importance of manufacturing EDUCATION in those frameworks.
Science, technology and engineering will drive the future.
We have been totally focusing/relying on the paper wealth created by the property and financial sectors. People believed that money can only be made from other money.
They forgot that you can only create long-term value by creating and making things, then commercializing and selling them for more than they cost. The profits and wealth this creates are real. Generating new technology is obviously not a quick deal, but it creates long-term value rather than short-term gains.
A UK colleague of mine stated “The banking industry in this country was complicit in the global economic meltdown and yet, just 24 months later, the culprits are enjoying record profits and huge bonus payouts while many manufacturing companies struggle to survive.”
So we have to reawaken our world from the dangerous financial bubble that lead us in the global economic crisis and we have to steer our economy back to inventiveness and creativity, making things and innovation as the absolute key to economic success.
To get there, however, we must breed a culture of appreciation for technology and those developing it. We need more entrepreneurs. We need more innovators. We need more scientists, engineers and designers who can turn ideas into working products.
But many people have no idea of the value and excitement of science, technology, engineering or math careers (STEM). Many assume that to succeed, they or their children must become bankers, lawyers or accountants. But only few know that the earnings potential of an engineering degree is second only to medicine doctors!
In fact, engineering is central to almost every aspect of modern life. The way we work, communicate, travel, build our homes, secure energy, diagnose and treat patients: all depend on our ability to engineer practical and sustainable solutions. The creativity and resourcefulness of engineers is changing our lives daily.
Many people dream of changing the world – engineers actually do so.
The importance of manufacturing to a thriving global society is not well recognized. We need more manufacturing specialists … to solve the critical problems of sustainable energy and climate change. We need more manufacturers … to help doctors save lives. We need more engineers …to apply science and technology for the benefit of humankind.
This is a quest for change of mentality. A change of the perception of manufacturing.
A change that must start with EDUCATION.
Demand for engineers is rising in all quarters with a critical need for outstanding talent at every level. We need an education system that germinates the seeds of industrial ambition in young people.
Manufacturing needs ‘hands and brains’ persons. ‘Hands’, in that they can solve problems, have no fear of failure, and follow their ‘brains’ theories through into practice by actually making things.
We have to learn our students the right mix of skills: making things and have a good grasp of the underlying theory. We need young talents who are able to solve problems and create solutions – practically.
The key, in fact: the FIRST PRIORITY of a new government, according to the Ingenious Britain report, is to recruit and develop the right motivated, subject-specialist TEACHERS.
That whole process starts at technical schools, colleges and universities. It’s about inspiring and exciting young minds. That is the core of effective teaching and the core of the best student achievements.
- Giving schools the flexibility and freedom to develop courses tailored to the needs of their students. We don’t treat students as one homogenous mass, so why do we do this with schools?
- Equipping thousands of teachers and careers advisers with the knowledge and confidence to communicate and illustrating the excitement and relevance of engineering. We should help them to understand the many different and rewarding career paths aspiring engineers can follow, so they can inspire in the children a passion for the subject. Young are innately curious about how and why things work. We must capitalize on this. We must feed their creativity.
- Making sure teachers develop themselves. Professional development is vital to keeping teachers up to date, motivated and invigorated. It radically improves the standard of teaching in schools. But half of the secondary science teachers have not participated in any subject-specific course in the previous five years (report from the Wellcome Trust). Maybe people should be obliged, as in Finland, to go to university to become a teacher. There teachers learn how to learn. If the teacher doesn’t learn to learn, how can he teach students how to learn?
- Giving them the practical real-industry equipment to make kids technologically literate – essential to an advanced technological society. STEM lessons are becoming less and less practical – and consequently less engaging and exciting!, due to safety fears (“That’s too dangerous”) and the huge focus on exams.
25% of the employers cite a lack of practical experience in graduates as the major barriers to recruitment over the next five years. Giving practical experience is probably the best way to make engineering degree courses more attractive to students.
- Offering competitive salaries and incentivizing them to respond to the demands of employees and students.
Another key to revamp manufacturing (education) is COLLABORATION. something Ford Motor Co., executive chairman Bill Ford stated as well.
Collaboration between education and industry, between industry and government and collaboration inside the manufacturing industry.
- Between education and industry: Curricula must be defined directly with industry and must provide the sort of well-educated workforce that can support the high value activities of the future. Industry must have a strong voice in the way courses are designed and taught to the students. This calls for open-mindedness in the educational world. Close relationship with industrial partners in a school’s Industrial Advisory Committee can form a reliable feedback loop to ensure that course contents and skills are meeting the needs of industry. This sort of interaction will provide individual educational establishments with a unprecedented competitive advantage. Also manufacturers can develop a sustainable competitive advantage by creating a long-term strategy involving public engagement work with local schools, investing in local education, i.e. investing in productivity knowledge to continually add value.
- Between government and industry: There is a critical need for long-term investments in education. But investments in next millennium’s breakthrough solutions for example can be risky, especially when government budgets are under serious pressure. But the risk could be shared with the market. However, government should look at the long-term potential and not at the short-term savings, leaving all the work to the industry.
- Between the industrial organizations, charities and companies: Many organizations in the manufacturing field are doing outstanding work to promote the value of science and engineering. However the key is to coordinate those different activities so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. A committed cadre of people could streamline initiatives and use the skills of their PR and marketing professionals.
I believe there is ONLY ONE MODEL in the entire CNC (Computer Numerical Control) manufacturing industry that incorporates all above visions and requests: the Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) concept.
Haas Technical Education Centers (HTECs) are revolutionizing manufacturing training across the world!
The HTEC initiative is a long-term partnership program between educational establishments, CNC machine tool builder Haas Automation, the company’s local distributors and a very strong and broad alliance of the manufacturers leading the CNC technology industry.
We need to build a stronger manufacturing infrastructure. This requires well trained, highly motivated CNC technicians; people with access to the very latest CNC technology and with the knowledge and skills to get the best from it.
That’s what the HTEC program aims to deliver: attract, inspire and educate more young people to become highly skilled CNC technologists.
As part of the HTEC network, technical schools, colleges & universities can receive:
- The most advanced manufacturing technologies used in today’s industry in their CNC/mechanics classes;
- Effective, compelling teaching materials for direct use in the classroom setting, saving teachers valuable time AND improving the students’ performance;
- A concept to transform the school’s CNC department into a motivating, high-tech, inspiring learning environment;
- Support to connect to the local manufacturing community, to build the school’s reputation and increase relations to better achieve the school missions.
- Support to ensure the students graduate with the best possible employment and career opportunities to make lasting contributions to society and the economy.
Contact me for more information