We are surrounded by debate on Brexit and recognise that this will have an impact on all of our lives. We are not though, in direct control of this outcome, and it may be some time before we have clarity. We are however in control of the strategic planning process within our own businesses, and in this respect we need to continue to act and develop our plans, including tapping into our universities more often.
My own view is that industrial engagement will forge the path ahead for Scotland’s universities in a much more dynamic way than it does presently, for the benefit of all.
We need to get both research activities and industrial engagement more synergised and this will, in turn, help to shape the employability agenda for both under graduate and post graduate students, thereby helping to ‘future proof’ the skills sets they, and our businesses, need in the future world of work.
Given industrial engineering and manufacturing has been our lifeblood for so long, factories of the future will need to create competitive advantage through high level productivity and that’s not about removing people, it is about making better use of people and their skills – so there are elements around areas such as industry 4.0, robotics and high level control systems that will be crucial for our future role as an industrial nation that has competitiveness and impact as core values. We need to put time, capacity and effort into scoping out our future ready projects and skills needs, and commit to addressing these needs. If we don’t someone else will.
Our universities are open to engagement with industry, so it is all about proactively seeking out who might offer the clear route to solving a dilemma that might exist in your organisation. Organisations like Interface have been pivotal in academic/industrial collaborations, but with universities being such ‘dynamic’ institutions, finding new ways of carrying out research and reaching out into industry, it is surely up to industry to grasp these opportunities? Universities might ‘push’, but industry needs to ‘pull’!
In my view, our universities remain an under-utilised resource and opportunity. We all need to be part of a strong academic industrial engagement platform which will be beneficial to our country in the post Brexit era which lies ahead.