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A Change Model for Manufacturing Education

Posted by Bert Maes on April 1, 2012

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So many people sit and debate about the costs or human resources of reforming education.

Usually they talk about the huge amount of money that is needed, the lack of strategy from the government, or a lack of authorities coordinating between education and industry, or the lack of involvement of social partners in actively implementing support for education.

That was the case last month, at a conference in Bratislava Slovakia entitled “Can we prepare young people for the Slovakian business needs?” I was asked to be a keynote speaker, because, and I quote:

“I have come across your blog, while doing research for a stakeholder workshop in Bratislava which is aimed to tackle the ability of education system and public policies to produce qualified and high-skilled labour force. We are looking for a speaker for this workshop that would be able to provide a valuable insight about the best practices in preparing students for employers’ needs. I would like to offer those who attend a fresh look from abroad by someone who´s an expert on the business-education system relation and you seem to fit that.”

The problem in Slovakia is that there is a mismatch between the needs of the economy and the types of graduates that the Slovak education system delivers.

That is the problem everywhere, right?

Most solutions count heavily on the input of governments. However, very often governments do not provide teachers with the right tools to share their knowledge and skills to the students who need and want to learn.

In educational reform, the focus should always be on supporting teachers.

The only right approach in educational innovation is supporting teachers in increasing the performance and motivation of their students.

And this can be done without breaking the bank.

Let’s face the facts:

  • 40 years of education research confirms that the quality of a teacher is the biggest factor in boosting students’ performance.
  • Change outcome in education is explained almost completely by commitment of the teacher. (Crandall, 1982)
  • There is no manufacturing without skills, and there are no skills without teachers, so there is simply no manufacturing without teachers.
  • Stakeholders should not be thinking about how to get teachers to do things, but think about to help teachers do things.
  • What do teachers need? (1) supportive leadership, (2) access to high-quality curriculum, teaching resources & technology, (3) Time for teachers to collaborate, (4) clean & safe building conditions, (5) Professional development that is relevant to personal & school goals, (6) Collegial work environment, (7) Higher salaries.

For at least half of these elements, we don’t have to wait for political strategies, but we can work with schools individually to design and implement educational innovation. The options are simply outstanding at the micro level.

We have a big job to do — and that is to create an interest in manufacturing. If we don’t do something about it, we’re going to lose a core part of our economy.

As the shortage of skilled technicians is a global trend that needs to be reversed immediately, the HTEC program is working with schools at micro level to spark change.

Haas Automation is sitting down at the table with teachers and brings meaningful real education tools that work.

Our goal is offering a gentle, and real way to create development in education that promotes innovation and world class learning in manufacturing.

We are happy to share our model with whoever wants to take on this difficult but inspiring work.

A little preview:

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One Response to “A Change Model for Manufacturing Education”

  1. Great work here Bert. Inspires me to solve the skills shortage in our little niche of PLC training. I should put together one class for college instructors only. With the intent, if I teach them properly, they will go back to their respective colleges and start teaching their students properly. Such a simple concept, why didn’t,t I see it before. 🙂 Thanks again Bert I will share this great article with others to help improve the system.

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