How industry-academia partnerships can accelerate digital transformation
Whom would you believe? Applicants lamenting job scarcity or employers complaining about talent shortage?
However, before evaluating these conflicting perceptions we must confess to the ever-widening skill-gaps between what’s needed by the industry and what’s made available by the universities. As per Deloitte’s research - technology, digital, automation programming, tools & technology workability, and critical thinking are the top 5 must-have skills to thrive in the ‘Industry 4.0’ age. However, it’s a matter of huge debate whether global universities functioning as academia have truly been able to generate ‘ready to deploy’ resources as per sectoral demands. McKinsey predicts, the global economy is slated for a 95 million surplus of low-skilled workers, while lacking about 40 million tertiary education workers and 45 million secondary education workers.
As per Deloitte’s research - technology, digital, automation programming, tools & technology workability, and critical thinking are the top 5 must-have skills to thrive in the ‘Industry 4.0’ age
How have industry needs evolved?
Considering the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution - characterized by the seamless amalgamation of physical assets and digital technologies – there is a huge untapped scope for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). In fact as per reports, the IIoT market was valued at USD 59.54 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach USD 91.40 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 7.39%. Additionally, the factors affecting industrial value creation and value capture in product development have also augmented 5 new trends such as - Product as a Service, customized product, design disruption, faster speed to commercialization and distributed manufacturing. Consequently, the industrial world’s primary objectives are already shifting to facilitate faster product regeneration and optimization of assets, facility, fleet and network. At this critical juncture, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in every industrial sector are planning to leverage these new trends by aiming for the 2 new objectives. Hence, OEMs are undergoing rapid Digital Transformation by adopting & implementing Design System Integration, Model based Enterprise, Industrial Analytics and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform. There is also a marked shift in focus from conventional software to implementing cloud based software & apps. All of this leading to multiple resourcing & ecosystem challenges such as:
- Lack of skilled resources in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and analytics
- Lack of solution architects with software and multi-domain experience
- Cultural limitation of procedural vs solution based approach
- Insufficiently matured knowledge ecosystem of outdated university or training institute curricula
- Cost of training the resources affecting cost-effectiveness
Now, solving all these challenges with a single silver bullet might be highly improbable. Even if in some cases such solutions are implemented, they have ended up becoming too expensive, yet short-lived. However, if you believe that every challenge hides an opportunity – here’s an emergent model of innovative talent sourcing that could be leveraged by any OEM or engineering service provider.
Groundwork for the new model
Compared to its consumer counterpart IoT, Industrial IoT is much more complex in terms of data capture & analysis. Moreover, IIoT unites critical machineries and sensors in high-risk industries such as aerospace, defense, healthcare and energy – in which failure often results in lethal or other emergency situations. However, unfortunately due to these reasons and a few more such as cost and feasibility - academic training & certification in IIoT is limited to theoretical classes with dated industry use-cases. Therefore, the ground work to build such a future-proof talent pipeline starts with creating an experiential IIoT training ecosystem. A comprehensive training that not only upskills existing engineering talent for the industry’s digital transformation demands, but also certifies them in at least one of the prevalent IIoT platforms such as GE Digital’s Predix or Siemens’ MindSphere or anything more prevalent, updated and comprehensive.
Three phases of the new model
For the best results of leveraging this model there are three mutually exclusive phases of:
Planning – For partnering with certifying companies, developing the detailed curriculum based on the latest IoT tech stack & digital technology material, reviewing the syllabus for possible inadequacies, determining the final headcount for training and hiring and then strategically sending out the invitations of partnership to colleges and universities.
Considering the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution - characterized by the seamless amalgamation of physical assets and digital technologies-there is a huge untapped scope for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
Implementation – Again for best results it could be further divided into four stages such as:
- Campus visit and program kick-off – This stage is meant for actually selecting the students eligible for the training and certification from all the institutes that expressed their interest of participation. To start off the selection process, campus visits to the shortlisted institute/s is organized for meeting 4th semester students, who would be pursuing IoT as part of their existing curriculum in fourth and fifth semester. This IoT course syllabus could be jointly developed/reviewed to include latest technology and tools.
- Interview – Just before the fifth semester ends, a four-stage selection process is organized. The first 2 rounds are adeptly formulated to test every candidate’s general aptitude and technical knowledge. The next 2 rounds of group discussion and a face to face interview with the recruiting company’s HR representative, is aimed at finally selecting the predefined number of meritorious students eligible for training.
- Training, hackathon & live projects – This stage that starts alongside the college’s 6th semester and continues to seventh semester. This stage consists of IIoT platform training as per the pre-designed curriculum, hackathons & real-time projects. In the hackathons, students build apps for the industrial segment, while interacting with the trainer at the institute who is trained by the recruiting company’s subject matter experts and ultimately passes on the queries to him. In seventh semester, a multi-disciplinary team of students execute the real-time projects, such projects are sponsored by senior leadership & mentored by subject matter experts from recruiting company.
- Certification & assessment – This stage that coincides with the college’s 8th semester’s starting is all about periodic assessments to choose the best performers and awarding them with a certification, with an opportunity to be absorbed into an industry workforce. With the final offer in hand, dreams turn into reality.
Outcome demonstration – In this final stage, the recruiting company demonstrates the results of such an initiative and moves on to scaling IIoT platforms for their clients with the talent sourced from such initiatives.
With this model and the stages described above being piloted by a global engineering services and solutions company, there is more than just a chance to succeed. It’s a corporate strategy of social stewardship that engineers a positive change with a mutually beneficial relationship between the industry and the academia. It’s an extremely foresighted recruiting proposition that places collaborative community-building at the heart of creating a scalable and ready-to-deploy talent pipeline that suffices the evolving needs of impending Digital Transformation.