One of the first topics I was fortunate enough to write about for Process Engineering magazine was Industry 4.0.
Specifically, I had the daunting task of trying to explain the concept and how the world was about to unleash the fourth industrial revolution.
Since I was introduced to the idea, discussion surrounding Industry 4.0 – as well as the Internet of Things, Big Data and the Cloud – has been deafening.
The reason being: it impacts every aspect of the process industries regardless of sector.
It is a concept that is designed to solve problems, increase productivity and better connect industry.
However, like virtually everything in engineering, it also creates challenges. The biggest of which – and one that has always resonated deeply with me – is skills.
Across all engineering sectors there is a severe shortage of skilled staff. It is a problem that just won’t seem to go away. And if anything, it’s only going to get worse – particularly as industry has to adapt to the demands of global connectivity.
Fortunately, different disciplines are starting to merge and work together. The IT and OT sectors are no longer ships that pass in the night, for example.
However, the skills gap remains. So what can be done?
I think engineering needs a complete upgrade. There is an obvious problem with perception. Those drumming up support need to start selling a different story. They also need to tap into the interests and ideologies of the next generation.
For instance, schoolchildren on the Isle of Man are taught about engineering, not through mind-numbing lectures, but through learning how a Sony PlayStation works. If you market that kind of thinking to the masses, the skills gap will become a distant memory.