I could easily be forgiven for thinking that I was in San Diego, California yesterday.
Having just spent the last hour in a very pleasantly chilled boardroom on a science and technology campus, in the Midlands of the UK, I stepped out into the roasting heat of this amazing summer we are currently experiencing.
Since the 16th Century the city I was visiting has been through many ebbs and flows of industrial boom and slump, from cotton and cloth, to clocks and locomotion.
Originally known as Coffantree, with a population of less than 300, today’s Coventry seems stronger and more resilient than ever. Building on its accolades in the automotive industry, it is well positioned at the cross roads of yet another new industry, electrified and autonomous vehicles.
Jaguar Land Rover already has its primary research facility in Coventry with many other car manufacturers tapping into the academic and industrial expertise that is ready on hand. However the world of autonomous vehicles, and electrified vehicles, is a very different world to that of the automobiles of the past and today, and a world driven by the internal combustion engine.
Electrification and automation
The rapidly approaching new paradigm of electrification and automation requires blends of skills and expertise that is currently rare to find working well together in one place for one objective. Like all change, this presents both opportunities and challenge for all concerned, not just for the industries, but for the students employees of the future and the academic institutions they will need shape the people to shape the future.
Sitting at the pinnacle of industry-led collaboration and research universities are working hand-in-hand with their industrial partners to discover the requirements and build the solutions for the new markets that are developing. However, this is not plain sailing, there is still many divides and legacy boundaries between disciplines and research areas that need to be broken down or overcome in order to create the thinking and research that is appropriate to tomorrow’s problems.
Earlier in the education life-cycle, Further Education institutions such as colleges and sixth-forms, high schools and even junior schools are having challenges working out how best to prepare children and young adults for future workplaces and, perhaps more importantly future societies.
Personally, with both older and younger children having passed through, or embarking on the beginning of their education in the UK, and professionally as a non-executive director in a non-profit group in Further Education, I see a lot of progress is being made, yet still so much needs to be done. And progressis not going to wait.
The chance to do more
Whilst I am delighted and excited to already be involved in identifying and addressing the opportunities, I am looking to learn more from others who are also doing this. Whether that’s from an industrial, or technology point of view , or particularly from the education domain. Please do get in touch with me if this is an area you are focused on, I would love to chat, exchange opinions and share success stories over a good cup of tea.