A question that is constantly discussed among university teachers in engineering all over the world is whether the education and training offered is in line with what is requested among the potential employers in the engineering sector.
Or might it be good if there is a gap between what is taught at higher educational institutions and what must be implemented when the graduates become employees? Is it an advantage if the university gives candidates the theoretical knowledge and industry the practical skills and competences through hands on training? But what if the gap between theory and practice is a big one? Will it be possible to bridge that gap? If not, who will then be the loser?
Several of these issues came to the surface when the IE3 project launched an international comprehensive questionnaire to companies, big and small, to graduated students, to teachers at engineering universities, and to a big number of students currently registered at industrial engineering and management programmes in different European countries. The intention with the questionnaires was to see if these gaps referred to above really exist, and if this is true, to find out what is missing and where. Thousands of interesting answers revealed what currently is missing when we talk about engineering subjects related to tomorrow’s engineering education in the domain of industry 4.0. This was expected and not astonishing. This domain is still on the edge in the curricula at engineering universities. What is more interesting, however, is the very evident result that there is a clear gap between what the graduates master of soft skills and what the employers consider necessary competences for a future career in a modern industry environment. This is a fact that the IE3 project now must consider in its next step and it is a refreshing wake-up call for most programme directors in industrial engineering and management. The story has just begun.
Prof. Janerik Lundquist