Pilot project aims to “upgrade and future-proof” skills training

CONSTRUCTION Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) and the Digital Health and Care Institute (DHI) are leading a pilot project that will explore ways colleges and innovation centres can work together to support business innovation.

The project – called FUTUREquipped –  will see four of Scotland’s innovation centres and 13 colleges working with industry to “upgrade and future-proof” skills training and workforce development in the areas of construction and engineering, health and care, and information technology.

The programme is being funded by the new £500,000 College Innovation Fund launched earlier this year by Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy.

Co-designed by CSIC and DHI, with support from The Data Lab and CENSIS, the programme is described as embedding “practical approaches” to workforce training and collaboration with industry. It will focus on technology-enabled health and care, augmented/virtual reality design and build, advanced construction and offsite technologies, and sensor technology.

Digital, robotic and offsite construction technologies are available in CSIC’s Innovation Factory in Hamilton.

Next month, 27 college lecturers will spend five days on an innovation learning programme, designed to upskill and support them in training future workforces. Participants will be introduced to the latest developments in digitally enabled health and care, and construction practices through the medium of smart housing. They will attend site visits and be asked to develop new teaching modules to integrate their learnings into college courses.

Rohan Bush, head of public partnerships and future workforce at CSIC said, “The FUTUREquipped project will help prepare Scotland’s future workforce for the myriad of challenges and opportunities already inherent in the fast-paced digital and technical revolution we’re experiencing. We’re honoured to be hosting the programme, which represents a world-class opportunity for Scotland to integrate and future-proof all three key contributors to progress, which are skills training, workforce development and industry integration.”

Professor George Crooks, CEO at the Digital Health & Care Institute added, “FUTUREquipped is in itself an innovative project, bringing innovation centres closer to colleges and creating a partnership that will help create a future workforce for the health and care sector that understand and are motivated to innovate. They will understand and embrace the opportunities that digital tools and services can bring to support their patients, clients, themselves and their colleagues to deliver safe and high-quality services.

“By building relationships with the college staff, the innovation centres can better understand how to build further meaningful collaborations that can help shape the future where people can live longer, healthier lives at home and in their own communities, feeling safe, supported and valued.”

Jason Fraser, technical director at Norscot said, “As a supplier to the construction sector, Norscot are acutely aware of the need to prepare future construction workers with the skills needed to adapt and contribute to an ever-evolving construction landscape. Following on from the award-winning collaboration with Strathclyde University on our Virtual Reality show home software, we are pleased to expand our relationship with the academic world to support the FUTUREquipped project.

“It is an exciting prospect for Norscot to play a contributing role in shaping the future of education and skills development within our sector, as well as the health and digital spaces; while the opportunity to work with 13 Scottish Colleges, share our knowledge and work collaboratively to explore new industry level innovations is very welcome. It is imperative that our future workforce is empowered to learn and adapt to new technologies and innovations as they become available to industry, with a view to this supporting a more productive construction sector and greater employability for college graduates moving forward.”