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Education meets business: Fostering young talent together
Education makes us strong. Because it allows us to shape our lives in a self-determined way. Companies can and should also make their contribution in education – for the youngest and the grown-ups. In short, for the skilled workers of tomorrow. These four examples from KUKA show how diverse this commitment can be.
19 April 2023
Reading Time: 4 min.
Cash for Schools Campaign, United Kingdom
The annual OECD publication “Education at a glance” makes it clear: educational institutions lack financial resources. While total public spending in OECD countries will increase by 10.9 percent between 2019 and 2020, the increase in the education sector will amount to only 1.4 percent. As banal as it sounds, more money is needed – and companies can help.
Cash for Schools Campaign, United Kingdom
KUKA is therefore involved as one of the sponsors in the “Cash for Schools” campaign, which addresses elementary school up to sixth grade in the UK. Over a period of four weeks, schools collect as many “tokens” as possible. They will appear daily in the regional evening newspaper “Express & Star”. The five schools with the most tokens cut per head will receive a cash prize. By the end of April 2023, this will award £ 12,000, which schools can in turn invest in technology, books and much more. Katherine Nowill, Marketing Manager at KUKA, says: “The Cash for Schools initiative has been supported by KUKA Systems. It enables us to support an education-based competition, held by Express & Star. It not only enables us to promote our apprenticeship program, but positions KUKA Systems as a supporter and advocate of education-based incentives, such as Cash for Schools.”
Experience robotics, Hungary
KUKA employees in Hungary want to get children personally interested in robotics– through a visit to the production halls. That is why they work closely with elementary schools and offer guided tours as part of orientation days, for example at the Taksony site.
“In the last three months alone, we've already had the pleasure of welcoming over 200 schoolchildren to our site,” says Edina Papp-Lukacs, Assistant of Managing Director and responsible for the production tours program at KUKA in Hungary. “In child-friendly language, we bring the world of robotics closer to them.”
At the beginning, there is a short safety introduction before the young guests enter the production halls. Afterwards, they can see the robots in action, for example polishing components. Along the way, they learn more about the automation market and KUKA. “It is a special highlight for the school classes when they get to meet and interact with one of our lightweight cobots. We have hands-on robotics,” says Edina Papp-Lukacs with a smile. “At the end, the students receive a certificate for their participation and a keychain in the shape of a robot that we make ourselves here.”
In 2023, the agenda also includes programming courses, guest lectures and discussions at Hungarian universities. This is because KUKA has set itself the goal of intensifying its cooperation with local universities to attract prospective engineers to the company and thus fill vacant positions directly.
Being an engineer at the female researcher camp, Germany
But investing in education involves even more; for example, providing young talents with practical experience and thus inspire them for occupational groups in which the shortage of skilled workers is particularly high. According to a forecast by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, there will be a shortage of around 288,000 MINT specialists in Germany by 2031. And fewer women than men continue to opt for these professions. The female researchers camp at KUKA in Augsburg last fall therefore focused on digital technologies and specifically got female students aged 15 and older excited about robotics and artificial intelligence. After all, as an automation group, KUKA is keen to strengthen its technological expertise.
For one week, twelve young women worked on a task set by KUKA with the help of the sensitive cobot LBR iisy, among other things. The central question was: How can automation be used to make the supermarket of the future more sustainable? This video provides an exciting insight. The Women Researchers Camp at KUKA was initiated in cooperation with the Bildungswerke Bayerische Wirtschaft and the Hochschule der deutsch-bayerischen Wirtschaft.
Robotics in vocational education, China
In China, too, there are numerous initiatives to promote skilled workers. This is because the role of humans in modern manufacturing is changing, and with it the importance of robotics in vocational training. Against this background, the “Zhen Xing Cup” (振兴杯 meaning Revitalization Cup), the national competition for vocational skills, was held for the 17th time in the megacity of Chongqing. More than 300 participants from 31 provinces and autonomous regions competed in the final at the end of March 2023. For the first time, this year's competition also involved the operation of industrial robot systems. The aim of the competition is to optimally prepare young people for the job market by improving their professional skills, their ability to innovate and create efficiency.
“Yalong is our close partner. KUKA and integrator Yalong supported the final of the Revitalization Cup with the latest technology,” says Chen Hong, Key Account Manager at KUKA. Together, they developed a production line for the energy battery industry that was used there. “We hope that KUKA and Yalong can bring more power to the education industry by working together in this competition. Yalong has rich practical experience in vocational education, especially robot education. Our goal is to continue to provide the technology and equipment for it.”
Since 2021, the “Student” and “Employee” categories have been alternated each year so that outstanding talent can be identified across different age groups. Employees can achieve technician or specialist status by participating. School students gain insights into career prospects in the manufacturing industry.
All these examples show: Cooperation between companies and educational institutions is important. What's more, the players need each other to be successful. After all, this is the only way to equip young people with the resources, skills and experience they really need to succeed on the labor market.
Welding is as much a part of sound technical training as learning to write the alphabet. Trainees at KUKA learn this craft as early as their first year of training. This now includes welding in the virtual world in a four-week advanced training course.