A recent report in the New Statesmen declared: “The UK, at any one time, is facing a shortfall of around 40,000 people with the necessary STEM skills to meet the demand of the digital economy. With 75% of UK Businesses reporting a digital skills shortage.”
In this article, I will outline how KnowledgePoint Connect1 and UTCs can work together to equip students with the digital skills needed to meet the demands of the digital economy. Firstly, some of my own background. I was an engineer for eighteen years before moving into the classroom. Then followed thirteen years as Head of Design and Technology and Engineering, teaching in several different schools and Academies across the Manchester region. During that time, I entered teams of pupils in many competitions: Vex Robotics; F1 in Schools; Greenpower and the First Lego League to name just a few.
I always worked closely with Industry Ambassadors, implementing the Autodesk curriculum in a bid to provide the students with the digital skills they will need for the workplace of tomorrow. I have also witnessed, first-hand, the effect the Ebacc is having on the secondary education system and the negative impact on subjects such as Design and Technology and Engineering. I therefore decided, 14 months ago, to leave the teaching profession and move into one that will allow me to support the development of the digital skills of students throughout Europe and help them to meet the demands of the digital economy.
At KnowledgePoint Connect we work with a network of partners to provide opportunities to develop the digital skills of students using Autodesk software and technologies. Whether your focus is on product design, engineering, construction or the media and entertainment industries, we have a software solution and training provider that can offer support. We are also able to provide training on innovative new software like Fusion 360TM which is the first 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design), CAM (Computer Aided Manufacture), and CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) tool of its kind, allowing users to be able to design, engineer, simulate and produce CAM information and collaborate with others all in one software. Users can move effortlessly from concept sketch design ideas, through to creating 3-dimensional concept models and prototypes with the ability throughout the process to create engineering working drawings, high quality product renderings, animations and simulations. The UTC curriculum delivers high-quality technical, practical and academic learning which aligns very closely to the vision of KnowledgePoint Connect and the Autodesk training partner network.
How can we support the UTC network?
Our network of partners includes specialists in Product Design, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Media and Entertainment Industries. Whatever the UTC specialism, there is likely to be a partner who can support the training in the relevant Autodesk software. Over the last twelve months, we have been working with several UTCs providing free workshops and curriculum support. For example, UTC Leeds and Aston University Engineering Academy have now become Autodesk Authorised Academic Partners and serve as regional hubs for the local communities. Students in these UTCs are developing their digital design skills and working towards the globally recognised Autodesk Certified User (ACU) certification in their chosen software. We are now looking to develop our activities with the wider network. We are now looking to develop our activities with the wider network of UTCs. An area we are keen to support is the setting up of UTCs as regional hubs to deliver training events, host regional meetings and share best practice across the UTC community. In addition to supporting the development of regional hubs, our network can provide several different experiences depending upon the requirement of the UTC.
We also have partners across Europe that are working with technical universities, through these links we can make introductions and help support and develop collaborative projects with UTCs.
Software training sessions to staff and students We can provide face-to-face and online support for the development of software skills. These can range from short two hour sessions throughout a day to several classes, to a more focussed day of instruction on an aspect of the software.
Develop local, regional and national UTC competitions.
Autodesk regularly organise ‘Design for Industry’ competitions that are sponsored by industry leaders and provide students with a design challenge using a different theme for each one. There are several prizes available and opportunities for student to be mentored by industry professionals. We can also organise and run local and specialised competitions for the UTC network. In January 2017, our partner network ran a series of two-day ‘designathons’ in fifteen universities across twelve European countries, where students are given a design challenge and working in teams design a solution to the brief. As a major sponsor of F1 in Schools, Vex Robotics and Worlds Skills Competitions, Autodesk software is used throughout the design challenges of each competition.
Support software industrial certification courses
Autodesk certifications are a reliable validation of staff and student skills and knowledge which can lead to accelerated professional development, improved productivity and enhanced credibility for them. They are recognised globally and can set UTC students apart from the rest when employers are recruiting. We can provide resources and support on aspects of the curriculum to help you develop students to become Certified Users of the Autodesk software of their choice.
Autodesk Student Expert Network Autodesk Student Experts and Autodesk Student Ambassadors are active fans of Autodesk technology who are passionate about design and engineering. Experts connect with like-minded peers and lead others through activities and campus events. Expert status gives students access to numerous benefits, including opportunities to network with industry professionals and showcase skills that can improve career opportunities. Student Experts may also become Student Ambassadors and be eligible for invitations to exclusive Autodesk events, technical pilot/beta projects, and training workshops.
The Autodesk Sustainability Workshop offers free online resources that teach the principles and practice of sustainability in engineering and design. Whether you are looking at product design, building performance or designing for a circular economy, we have the learning resources and expertise to help support you and your students. There are lots of great inspirational stories and case studies available from around the globe where the Autodesk community and student experts have come together to provide a solution to sustainability issues.
If you require any more information on how KnowledgePoint Connect can support the development of your students’ Digital skills please feel free to contact me at
1. KnowledgePoint Connect are the European Distributor for the Autodesk training partner network, we partnership manage over 360 training organisations for Commercial and Academic clients in 35+ countries across Europe.