The convergence of IT and OT at the plant floor level requires evolving tasks. This means that job roles need to change to encompass broader technical, organizational and social contexts, according to the report on Industry 4.0. These changes will apply increased pressure on professions like system integration engineers, who will need to make sure they are at the forefront of technological innovation and worker collaboration in order to meet this interdisciplinary challenge.
The concept of Industry 4.0, and all that it entails, is not only enticing, but it is also forcing us to re-examine the way we look at current industry jobs, including their relevance, lifecycle and the importance of continuing professional development (CPD) for an individual, an employer and the industry in general.
What is continuing professional development (CPD)?
CPD, or life-long learning, has been recognized by many professions and industries as an essential part of an individual’s journey through their professional career. It encompasses an individual’s need to continue their development throughout their careers by completing competency-based training courses, mentoring (giving and receiving), professional certifications and role-based assessments of skills aligned to specific tasks.
Importance of CPD
Studies show that individuals appreciate the importance of CPD in maintaining and expanding their careers. A 2012 study of 736 IT professionals identified that while 91% of respondents see the importance of CPD, two-thirds believed they don’t do enough CPD. Individuals are further challenged by financial and time pressures, as well as by planning and setting goals to complete CPD. (“Continuing Professional Development, The Challenges facing the IT Profession,” Sept 2012).
An increased focus on CPD is incumbent not only upon the individuals themselves, but also upon their employers and direct managers. The Industry 4.0 report highlights the need for “special priority to be given to the expansion of CPD. In particular, CPD in the workplace should address the importance of health, physical activity and lifestyle in ensuring a lengthy working life.”
What are the next steps?
It is clear that individuals, employees, technology providers and training institutions need to collaborate with industrial businesses to ensure that the correct training and experiential learning is provided to address the educational changes that Industry 4.0 will bring.
As a leading technology provider, Schneider Electric is committed to building a sustainable learning environment, and implementing appropriate training strategies to achieve a human-centric approach to manufacturing that takes into account the differences in employees’ education, experience and skills sets in a way that strengthens the innovative capacity of both individuals and businesses. As advocates and practitioners of the triple helix framework, we work with our partners, key industry stakeholders, academic institutions and customers to ensure we can meet the challenges of tomorrow. Some examples include:
- Certifications, such as Schneider Electric’s PlantStruxure Engineer Certification (which includes key product training across SCADA, Ethernet, DCS, networking and cybersecurity), ensure our internal engineers and partner system integrator engineers have the latest product and solution training to deliver the best system technology solutions for our mutual customers. Find more information about this program here.
- Schneider Electric’s Learning Factory: The Learning Factory offers valuable hands-on training in a real production environment. It is designed to address customers’ needs regarding energy utilization and reduction, as well as production process optimization. This initiative will continue to develop and feature prominently in our efforts to meet our customers’ requirements for the plant of the future.
- Schneider Electric’s BipBop “Access to Energy Training” program: This unique program brings electricity to the poorest communities around the world by utilizing the innovations developed at Schneider Electric to make power supply more robust and accessible in difficult environments. To ensure the BipBop program’s sustainability, an essential component is its training program for local electricians. Watch the video to discover more about this important program.
- Energy University: Energy University is a free, online, educational resource, offering more than 200 vendor-neutral courses on energy efficiency and data center topics to help you identify, implement, and monitor efficiency improvements within your organization. Visit MyEnergyUniversity.com for further information.
What changes (from a personal or managerial point of view) can you implement today to ensure your professional development continues to grow?