The manufacturing workplace of the future will evolve rapidly, driven by ultra-highly skilled talent equipped with the latest knowledge of mechanics, artificial intelligence and robotics. For workers in the sector, this means lifelong learning and ongoing skills development must become the norm, says Darren Lawless, the dean of Applied Research & Innovation at Humber College.
His predictions aren’t just a theory, because in many sectors, the future is here and the scenario he describes is already the norm. “I know companies that have 25 high-paying positions open because they can’t find the talent necessary,” he says.
This future also demands a new approach to education, he notes. Graduates will return again and again once they “go out and learn what they don’t know”; institutions such as Humber will partner with industry as well as academia to stay ahead of the curve and develop programs for upskilling.
The Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation at Humber is designed to facilitate this new reality, preparing students for this new world of work while providing solutions for companies in the region today. Opening later this year, the centre’s aims are guided by the Advanced Manufacturing Skills Consortium that includes industry partners Cimetrix, Cisco, DMG MORI Canada Inc., Festo Didactic, KUKA Canada Inc., Rockwell Automation and SEW- EURODRIVE, SICK and more. Multi-year partnership agreements with these and other companies mean that Humber students will have access to tailored learning programs as well as recruitment opportunities.
Instead of traditional classrooms, the 93,000-square-foot centre will feature flexible spaces where students, faculty and companies can bring together the tools, skills and resources required to solve real problems facing industry partners.
For students, the centre will “be a game changer,” says Dean Lawless. “Working on multiple projects with different partners within the centre links what they’re doing here with the careers ahead of them. It instills confidence as well as skills.”
Humber’s applied learning approach has already proven effective, with graduates going on to excel in organizations such as Magna, appear on CBC’s Dragons’ Den and achieve top awards at the WorldSkills Competition. Avery Bird and Theo Willert, who studied electromechanical engineering technology, won third place at WorldSkills in Abu Dhabi in the mechatronics category after winning gold medals at Skills Ontario and Skills Canada. Mateusz Cwaliniski and Bogdan Malynovskyy won gold at the national Skills Competition in June in the mechatronics category, a key step to qualifying for the Canadian Team at the WorldSkills competition in Russia in August 2019.
The new centre will expand on these successes. “By developing and demonstrating skills on real-world problems, our students are able to perform admirably when they launch their careers,” says Dean Lawless.
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