Strengthening Education and Workforce Development
Recently, Yaskawa Motoman was privileged to participate at the National Council for Advanced Manufacturing Policy conference in Washington D.C. The attendees represented a cross section of K-16 education, advanced technology companies, U.S. manufacturing policy makers and research-based institutes. The meeting centered around the theme, “The Impact of Disruptive Technologies on U.S. Manufacturing.” (I recommend reading McKinsey Global Institute’s report, Disruptive Technologies: Advances that will transform life, business and the global economy, as a starting point1). The underlining message of all the presentations and topics was the importance of education. The speakers covered a range of extremely interesting subjects such as the future of Additive Manufacturing (3D printing), the “coming of age” of autonomous vehicles (Drones), The Internet of Things (the potential effect of integrating the Cloud into manufacturing) and Advanced Materials (Nanotechnology). Yaskawa Motoman’s Technology Director, Erik Nieves, presented our vision of The Next Generation of Robotics to the council.
Education is Key
What’s clear is that education is the key that defines our success as a nation. Manufacturing cannot realize change and embrace disruptive technologies without a supportive, collaborative educational system. America’s economic growth and workforce development depends on innovative curricula, products and services directly tied to our educational institutions. As a result, successful K-12 STEM education is essential for scientific discovery, economic growth and on-going democracy.
“Companies will need to find ways to get the workforce they need, by engaging with policy makers and their communities to shape secondary and tertiary education and by investing in talent development and training; the half-life of skills is shrinking, and companies may need to get back into the training business to keep their corporate skills fresh.” 1
Education and industry leaders struggle with the knowledge that too many students leave school unprepared. Gaps among students from different race/ethnic and economic backgrounds are wide. Meanwhile, high schools and colleges are struggling to create STEM degree or certification programs to meet the growing demand for skilled workers that are tied to jobs in the manufacturing industry. Creating successful workforce development collaborations / programs can be complicated and may take years to see results. In order to remain highly competitive, students must be adequately educated and prepared based on the skills needed. At the same time, workforce development is not a one-to-one relationship with an employer; it’s a partnership between multiple educational institutions and regional industries. Funding, resources, collaboration and time are the essential success factors for a STEM-based workforce development program.
Yaskawa Motoman’s Role in Education
Every day, I talk to educational leaders who want to partner with Yaskawa Motoman. We explore ways to create sustainable and successful workforce-driven partnerships that support educational standards and innovative ways to blend and align our STEM curriculum and hardware. We help schools leverage our industrial partners that use, employ and integrate Motoman robots. We help schools employ our blended STEM curriculum, provide classroom/ industrial software modeling tools, maintenance training, break/fix programs and application-specific programs that integrate real life industrial experiences in a classroom environment. We help educational partners market, brand and recruit students by leveraging our resources, industrial partners and training facilities. Finally, we play an active role in the local economy here in Ohio by providing opportunities for schools to participate in co-op programs and internships for students, conduct tours of our facility and support regional and national robotics events.
Tell us how we can help your education institution ramp-up your STEM robotics program.
By Bob Graff, Senior Sales Manager, Education Market