Technology, industry and design are sectors that are made for each other. Although we wish everyone would want to pursue a career in industry, we shouldn’t be concerned when someone chooses a career in design or technology. In fact, it might even be a good thing. Because industry is highly dependent on there being both skilled engineers and reliable designers.
We often talk about how industry is crying out for skills, which is certainly true. There is an enormous lack of skills in our industries and we need more stars if we’re going to be competitive in the future as well. However, what we forget is that people who work with both technology and design are in a way the key to much of what happens in industry. Without engineers who know automation, IT and smart solutions, industry would grind to a halt. Similarly, we need industrial designers who draw and produce products and concepts that we in the industrial sector can then manufacture.
That is why I stand by the claim that all three sectors are more or less dependent on each other and cannot be set apart. There are certainly industries that manufacture their own products but this is rarely done without an internal designer. In the same way, there are engineers who work at consulting agencies, but their tasks probably aren’t just from industry in particular.
When I talk with people, young and old alike, I usually emphasise that. That we are three different sectors completely dependent on each other. Without operators, there would be no one to manufacture what the designers draw, or apply what the engineers calculate. And without the design, there would be nothing for the operator to manufacture, and then there would be no need for the systems that the engineer supplies. Finally, engineers are also needed in order for the operator to manufacture something according to the designer’s drawing, and for the designer to make their concepts and products a reality. Complicated? Not at all – all three sectors are necessary!
So, do we need to be terrified of “losing” a candidate to another sector such as engineering or design? Nope, rather the opposite. I think we should get better at encouraging people to choose the sector that they feel most comfortable in, while also being clear about the cooperation that takes place daily between these three sectors. Of course we need skills in industry and we are working tirelessly to get more people to discover this type of workplace and want to work in our sector. But at the same time we are completely dependent on the availability of skills in our two perhaps largest collaborating sectors.
I believe that if we could get designers and engineers to understand where their drawings and systems end up, then more people would also understand what the industry has to offer. The road to our industry might not feel quite as long if there was a better understanding of what we actually do. We should perhaps start by simply showing what a day in the life of an operator looks like, or how important it is that the drawing is done correctly in order for it to be manufactured in the machine.
As good as I think we should be at showing what our industry has to offer, I also think that we shouldn’t be afraid of losing a candidate to one of our collaborating sectors. I believe that the working pattern of the future will look completely different to what it has done in recent decades. I also think it will at least be as much about people who switch between sectors as those who choose a sector and stay there for the rest of their working life.
And I think that in industry we can derive an enormous number of benefits from the new lifestyle. Because imagine if we can convert someone who didn’t choose industry in the first place?
~ Industry greetings from Elin. “My name is Elin Elmersson and I’m an industry and technical communicator at the Gnosjö Automatsvarvning manufacturing industry. I’m also an industry blogger at Brave New Business. Come take a look!”
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