A new report by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum notes that technology’s impact on skills requirements for tradespeople, apprentices and journeypersons is growing in leaps and bounds.
The world is moving more and more toward technological solutions and the skilled trades are no exception.
A new report by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) notes that technology’s impact on skills requirements for tradespeople, apprentices and journeypersons is growing in leaps and bounds. For the report, the CAF interviewed employers and trainers and found that computer literacy is becoming a mandatory skill when it comes to hiring new workers, with the so-called ‘digital gap’ set to become as much of an obstacle to those who are not tech-savvy as the ‘literacy gap’ is to those lacking in literacy skills.
From 3D software to simulation technology to social media, those in the skilled trades will be expected to be up to snuff on digital information. The report notes that simulation technology, for instance, is becoming a key part of training in a wide variety of fields, including heavy equipment operation, welding, machining and other sectors for its ability to provide hands-on experience while reducing costs and waste and improving safety.
Tablets and other mobile devices, meanwhile, are gaining traction among trades workers looking to access schematics, work orders and codes quickly and easily.
“It is clear that digital skills will have a big impact on worker and workplace productivity,” said CAF executive director Sarah Watts-Rynard. “The introduction of increasingly high-tech equipment and machinery requires skilled tradespeople to have competencies well beyond hands-on, mechanical skills. We are also seeing the learning environment itself changing, requiring apprentices to interact with technology as part of their training process.”
Proprietary and vendor-supplied technology is also on the rise, as is online training. Those who are lacking in digital skills risk falling behind as the skilled trades move forward to keep in step with the newest technology.
“We have heard for decades that technology can help workers be safer, faster and more accurate,” said Watts-Rynard. “But it’s important to remember that technology requires another facet to the learning process and it doesn’t always come automatically, even to younger workers. Technical upgrades require skills upgrades.”
The report recommends broader engagement with online learning opportunities within a larger framework, a focus on boosting computer literacy, the creation of a strategy to address the skill needs of technology-intensive industries, e-management of on-the-job learning and the documentation, dissemination and evaluation of innovative practices.
Published on 02 April 2013
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