A greater focus on building creativity, adaptability and flexibility will help the UK’s universities develop graduates with the skills to tackle technological change within aerospace and other industries

Paulo Bartolo, Head of Manufacturing Group at the University of Manchester (UoM), spoke to FINN at the Industry 4.0 Summit and Expo held within the city. The event brought together senior-level executives from the UK manufacturing industry interested in developing their digital strategies.

Narrowing the skills gap

Panel discussions and speakers at the event had highlighted a skills gap, particularly within the UK, between the skills that graduates leave university with and the jobs available to them when they leave.

Bartolo said universities must focus more on preparing their graduates for lifelong learning: “Industry 4.0 represents complete transformation of the world from a technological and social perspective. In the majority of cases, we are training people with the right technical skills.

“But, in future, they must learn new knowledge – things like creativity, flexibility, adaptability – they are essential and we need to stimulate those skills.”

He said one way that universities could develop the skills of their graduates was through the implementation of personalised learning programmes.

“Personalised learning provides, to each student, a wide range of learning programmes, allowing them to select those programmes and different learning environments. This is a new trend – and universities must be prepared to meet new trends.”

Bartolo said he had “no doubt” that ensuring future engineering students were taught wider skills of creativity, adaptability and leadership would help improve the UK’s productivity and enable social transformation.

Role of people is crucial

Within aerospace, as with other industries, Bartolo said that people are the most important element in creating technologies which will enable social transformation.

“We had a couple of interesting discussions with aerospace companies. The technology is there, but the role of people is crucial. Its what we have already mentioned – training and preparing people for new environments. It’s much more than materials and instructions, which are important for aerospace, but how people interact with each other.”

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