Hands-on training can boost passion for technical careers

ABB is contributing to better practical training courses

Belgium and the Netherlands are struggling with a chronic lack of individuals with strong technical profiles. To encourage more young people to pursue a technical career, ABB is contributing to better practical training courses.

When I was a student at MTS Arnhem, I had to work with a wooden board and very basic plugs in my practicals. It was fun, but when I got my first job, I was astonished to see how things really worked. A world of difference with what I had learned at school.

Many years have passed since my studies in electrical engineering, but I have noticed that the practical lessons being taught still do not adequately prepare the engineers and technicians of tomorrow for the work being done in the working world. Teachers do their best to keep their finger on the pulse of technology, but they often have to make do with material that does not keep up with the ever faster technological developments in the workplace. That is why recent graduates go from one surprise to the next when they enter the job market. Just like I did.

Demo cabinets with real defects and real solutions

ABB is helping to bring about change through an innovative program. The company Van Lente Systeemintegratie has developed demo cabinets, for four schools located in the eastern area of the Netherlands, for which we delivered the components: terminals, relays, 24 V dc power supply, motor protection switches, main switches, sockets, push buttons and signal lights for the doors. In the demo cabinets, equipped with ABB frequency regulators, students can practise more than 50 different wiring and fault commands.

The cabinets simulate defects, students have to look for the causes and solutions. They gain insight into the most common problems, learn to think analytically and work towards solutions step by step. Just like our engineers and technicians do every day. Through the program more than 2,300 future technicians are gaining valuable skill by working directly with the cabinets.

More cooperation between industry and education

For ABB this project is just one step. While we supplied the equipment for the demo cabinets free of charge, we also ensured options for further expansion of the system in the future, for example with building automation systems. We can do more than just provide financial support to our schools, we can also share much more of our valuable expertise and experience. Thedemo cabinets project is a good example of how the industry and educational institutions can work together for a better future.

Our economy is in desperate need of individuals with strong technical profiles. If we want to encourage more young people to pursue a technology career, challenging practical lessons that are closely related to the real thing are a real plus. It is much more interesting for students to gain experience with the systems and components they will be using in practice later.

Two birds with one stone

The ROC in Twente in the Netherlands is one of the vocational schools that are using the demo cabinets. The staff tell us that, thanks to the cabinets, students immediately see the practical use of what the teachers are explaining to them in the theory class. The theory is no longer just an abstract thing, it actually comes to life.

Adapting today’s practical lessons to continually evolving technological changes and the new demands in the business world is brings several benefits. The more successful the technical careers are, the larger the pool of technical profiles for companies such as ABB will become. And what’s more important: if, besides the passion for technology, we can also boost the training standards, we will be able to welcome extremely motivated and very skilled young people on board.

This will definitely give technical companies a boost, which will further foster our economy and provide the new generation extra opportunities!

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About the author

Ivo Verhoef

Sales Engineer at Robotics & Motion. He is responsible for the sale of electric motors, frequency converters and related articles for drive engineering in the North-East, East & South-East Netherlands region to partners, OEM and System Integrators. With ABB since 2014.
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