This is a key aspect of delivering training – be it academic or industrial. As a person that tries to deliver knowledge, it is important to know what they do not know (and hopefully I and help fill the shortfall).
I recently had an opportunity to deliver a pilot training course (topic irrelevant) but one of the key learnings was … young engineering students entering the workforce do not understand confined spaces.
Is this reasonable?
Looking back at myself, I did not understand “confined spaces” when I entered the workforce, but that was over 30 years ago. I learned it on the job, and since most of our equipment was small (hand holes but not man-ways) it was not that relevant for us. When I started working with storage tanks, then it became very (VERY) relevant.
In speaking with some colleagues, I concluded I was “normal” for my generation (and I would consider my generation … Baby Boomer).
In speaking with colleagues that I would consider Gen-X’ers, they did not learn about confined spaces until they entered the workforce, and they learned about it on the job.
And in speaking with colleagues that I would consider Gen-Y’ers, they also did not learn about confined spaces until they entered the workforce, and they learned about it on the job.
Finally, in speaking with recent graduates, they also did not learn about confined spaces until they received site specific on-the-job training.
So, I concluded this was “normal” for the current students entering the workforce to not understand confined spaces.
Should it be normal? The academic curricula is full, so to make room for confined space, something probably has to be removed. But what?
I am not in a position to alter the current academic curricula – the current curricula is accredited, and to change it requires time and implementation of a former process.
There is always a need for industry and academia to work together. This helps ensure academia provides the education that is pertinent to the needs of industry.
There are several ways industry and academia can work together for mutual benefit. These include:
- Guest lectures
- Plant tours
- Providing learning material (such as drawings or samples of “things”)
- Local case studies
And I am sure there are others. If you have any ideas of how industry and academia can do a better job of working together, we would love to hear them.