Bridging the STEM skills gap using technology

Over the next decade, an incredible 3 ½ million manufacturing jobs will be available by 2025. However, because of the skills gap this will result in a skills shortage of 2 million. The manufacturing industry needs to act accordingly to ensure these roles are fulfilled.

Technology companies worldwide are constantly developing solutions to cope with the skills shortage. Global Companies like Renishaw educate through STEM events, apprenticeships and training programs in a bid to inspire the future workforce at an early age. Sir David McMurtry explained ‘As a leading UK engineering company, in theory Renishaw should have been among the first whose recruitment suffered as a result of the skills gap. However the number of our apprentice and graduate applications has trebled in the last few years, as a direct result of our collaborations with schools, universities, STEM-based organisations, career advisors and Government agencies.’

Educational strategies definitely help towards reducing the skills gap, but in the last 60 years, mankind has managed the skills gap by innovating and developing technology, enabling the user to carry out a difficult or time consuming task faster with more accuracy. The humble calculator was one of the first to achieve this, allowing a non-mathematician to carry out basic to complex mathematical sums. But what of manufacturing? The complexities of metrology and engineering can’t possibly be simplified… or can they?

Organisations like the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) bring together a collaboration of UK manufacturing experts dedicated to technology and innovation. In an upcoming conference, Peter Hammond, MSP’s Technical Director and Tier 1 member, will discuss how to increase the capacity of your existing 5-axis machine tools, reduce fixture costs, and help you use in-process metrology equipment and calibration efficiently. Most of which can be automated, allowing valuable resources to be utilised elsewhere within the business.

Peter Hammond said “MSP will do everything it can to support and inspire schools and educate pupils on engineering projects. However, manufacturers must also bring their processes up to date if they want to compete in the aerospace industry.” MSP’s NC-PerfectPart software automates part setup and checks the machine tool is capable of making the parts, allowing engineers to focus on productivity of other areas within the business.

Peter Hammond concluded “Those who are involved in STEM should be focusing their skills to develop time saving systems like NC-PerfectPart. The skills shortage will continue, so businesses must focus on removing time consuming manual interaction to ensure engineers are innovating, not maintaining a manual practise.”

Manufacturers need to invest in people, but they also need to invest in time saving technology. Do you hire three highly skilled engineers to set up a part? or do you use a system that automatically sets up the part? The race to become the calculator of manufacturing has began…