Stuffing a skills gap

Posted on 20 May 2014 by The Manufacturer

Renishaw helps teachers inspire a new generation of engineers with the D&T Association’s Skills Gap programme.

In recent months TM has carried a number of insights from Cheryl Phillips, Skills Gap programme director for the Design & Technology Association.

Ms Phillips’ project is designed to influence and educate teachers about the modern day realities of manufacturing careers and the kinds of skills employers are urgently in need of from their students.

In pilot schemes with SME Alucast and metrology firm Renishaw, she has attempted to prove the scheme’s concept, training teachers to develop pertinent lesson plans through engagement with partner companies. Class outings to those companies’ facories have then taken place and special education challenges have been set – to apply the teachers’ new knowledge as well as inspire youngsters.

Catch up

Read previous articles on Skills Gap and its purpose at:

Closing the Skills Gap – An introduction

Closing the Skills Gap – Update 1

Closing the Skills Gap – Update 2

Closing the Skills Gap – Update 3

To register your interest in the scheme, please contact Cheryl Phillips, Skills Gap Programme Director for the D&T [email protected] [email protected] or 07903502768.

Pepping programming

Renishaw recently completed its pilot programme with Skills Gap.

It partnered with Marling school and devised a challenging project for its students to create programmable robot buggies following a six week engagement period with the school’s D&T teachers.

During this time, Renishaw’s skills gaps and requirement for programming capability were explained – as were the career trajectories for students that proved themselves able in this field.

Specially developed training enhanced the teachers’ skills in computer programming, advanced electrical and electronic systems and intelligence in products.  With further input and advice from business coaches at Renishaw, teachers were then able to support their Year 8 class through their robotics project and explain the relevant and use of the techniques they were applying in the ‘real world’.

8A3C0512Buggie bonanza

Celebrating the conclusion of the project, students were proud to show off their individual buggies. They went into action with a presentation to Renishaw employees and the Skills Gap team.

Students explained their learning journeys, describing the knowledge and skills which they had developed during the project and detailing problems they had encountered and how these had been solved.

Renishaw coaches gave positive feedback, commending the teachers’ enthusiasm and applauding students for the impressive standard of presentations, individuality of designs and range of working models.

“The programme was very challenging for both students and teachers as they were learning, coding and compiling their programs, then downloading on the RenBED microprocessor board so that they could get their individually designed buggies to move around,” explains Dave Collingwood from Renishaw.

“These are all skills that industry needs and that at Renishaw we often find missing from university graduates,” he adds.

Both teachers and students appreciated the business partnership which facilitated their achievements.

Steve Berry, head of Design and Technology at Marling school says, “The support from the business was fantastic and their expertise was invaluable for all of us.

“The students have been inspired by working with engineers and are eager to do more.

“The project was demanding but very rewarding, particularly when the pupils saw what they could achieve on their own, creating something from first principles rather than a kit,” he adds. “It has been great for the staff too, sharing new skills and working as a team.”

8A3C0538croppedMs Phillips is delighted with the outcomes from this pilot project. “There has been a very high level of commitment from both the teachers and business,” she says. “The enhancement of staff knowledge, skills and confidence has translated into an ambitious and very successful project with the students.”

ACE Academy, also participating in the pilot programme in partnership with Alucast, will present its school project later this month.

Teaching resources created as a result of both schools’ projects will shortly be trialled by other teachers and available on-line later in the year.