Co-Created Talent Design towards Industry 4.0 Transformation

Petri Pohjola
Tampere University of Applied Sciences

LinkedIn profile

Hanna-Greta Puurtinen
Tampere University of Applied Sciences

Europe faces new challenges in capitalising the opportunities offered by new key emerging technologies related to Industry 4.0. Transformation through Industry 4.0 implies not just purely digitising products, services or parts of production and manufacturing processes but also changing systemic level in all company operations. In addition, this shift applies to whole ecosystems including novel business models building e.g. on circular economy. Only by a holistic approach Industry 4.0 can leverage the true added value and competitiveness of European industry.
As also highlighted in the mid-term review on the implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy, employment of ICT specialists in the EU has grown by around 2 million over the past 10 years. However, for example in 2018, 53% of companies trying to recruit ICT specialists reported difficulties in filling vacancies [COM(2017) 228 final]. Hence, several practically oriented endeavors launched by the EC such as the European Institutes of Technology (EITs) and the proposed Digital Europe Programme aim to solve the same challenges.
The shortage of industry adapted digital expertise, often marked as ICT specialists, needs to be addressed rapidly (COM(2016) 0381 final). Transformation induced by Industry 4.0. e.g. in form of digital twins, virtual factory and IoT data exploitation requires novel, industry co-created talent design approach from universities with the final goal to contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals [UN(2015) A/RES/70/1].

Creating favorable circumstances for universities to respond to the future skill needs clearly indicated by the industry is an urgent challenge. As a response, Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) has designed new Technology Academy approach in its mechanical engineering curriculum. The Technology Academy builds on close collaboration with industrial partners and embeds the needed agility for the skill and competence targets as well as implementing the learning process. The objectives of the Technology Academy are:
1. Quick and agile adaptation of selected emerging technologies in development projects including company collaboration driven by professional interests
2. Project management skills in multidisciplinary environment, demonstrating leadership skills together with quality and customer priorisation
3. Intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship with creativity and innovation capacity building
In this paper we focus on co-creative curriculum design, but same concept can also be widened into extension studies, lifelong learning and continuous upgrading of skills and competences.

TAMK, in the field of mechanical engineering, has formed Technology Academy approach. In this Technology Academy, new Industry 4.0 enabled technologies are applied in student projects implemented in TAMK FieldLab, which is a test and prototyping environment for Industry 4.0 applications. This Technology Academy has strong industry collaboration together with professional and economic interests.
Academy project themes are yearly selected based on current industrial trends and industry partner needs. At the moment the selected Academy themes are formed around the following topics:
• Robot Academy: Applications of robot automation and cobotics
• Drone Academy: Development of drones and their applications
• Productisation Academy: Digital product development and manufacturing
• Virtual Academy: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies.
Technology Academy approach differs from traditional hackathons in many ways. Firstly, it’s not a competition but a set of joint development projects. Secondly, targets are set together and implementation is done in co-creation agreement where project business owner, typically, industrial partner, also assigs needed specialists to join development team and expediting the co-creation and learning process of all participants, featuring and concretising Creative Growth Revival process [Puurtinen and Pohjola 2019].

As an implication of successful implementation of the Technology Academy approach, technology adaptation skills together with engineering creativity and innovation have shown great advancement. Along the professional hard engineering skills this approach develops also students’ and participating partner specialists’ soft skills, team working capabilities and entrepreneurial mindset. Thus, the approach brings novel added value to Academy participating companies and future employers.
In addition, TAMK gains free access to industry partners’ latest equipment and applications as well as their current and future strategic R&D and innovation agendas. In exchange for their investment, the industry partners obtain novel, high quality solutions without time-consuming fully in-house operated expertise resource engagement.

The system-level transformation induced by Industry 4.0 touches upon all operations of companies, not just partially single products and services or production processes. In addition, new business models responding to future necessities of circular economy and complex global ecosystems require immense change within companies.
This radical systematic shift must be also reflected in education and curriculum design. TAMK’s Technology Academy gives one response to these challenges, providing students intra- and entrepreneurial mindsets along with upfront technical and soft skills. The benefits of co-creation, design and implementation are bidirectional, as companies can increase their innovation capacity, simultaneously getting the urgently needed employees with the skills of the future. Furthermore, universities are forced to look outside of their traditional silos with a future oriented perspective. Only in this way universities can ensure the agility and flexibility of graduates and lifelong learners updating and upscaling their knowledge and skills.