Beyond Nano and Biotech: Step into the Future Factory!
The UK, for example is training at several levels. It is increasing its capacity for early stage training in skills via apprenticeships and there are new special University Technology Colleges being set up to augment some of the colleges of further education. At a higher graduate level, there are several specialized centers for doctoral training. The gap at present in the UK and elsewhere is probably at the post-experience stage and the provision of courses for continuing professional development.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has recently introduced a focused initiative to improve training and knowledge transfer in the manufacturing area and it has created 16 new centers for innovative manufacturing. This provision for research and development at the early stages of technology readiness levels 1-3 adds to the new InnovateUK Catapult initiatives, which cover the higher Technology Readiness Levels. Currently, there are seven of these based around the country with an investment of £140 mn over a six year period.
Another aspect that has not been covered so far is the issue of keeping factories of the future operational. As manufacturing processes become more diverse and automated, there will be a need to obviate plant failure and human error.