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Our Post-Crisis Reality

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One cannot help pondering our post-crisis reality and how the world will change after this pandemic. We couldn’t help but think about what our own professional world will resemble and more generally how the world of work will adapt…

We’ve highlighted a few aspects characterizing this contrasting subjective awareness.

More time at home for everyone 

First off, this pandemic is not so much an isolated incident with a definite end-date. The current outbreak should be brought under some form of control by the end of the (European) summer, experts speculate. However there are bound to be more “after-shocks” to come with lockdowns in different cities/regions becoming the norm throughout 2020 and 2021. People will be expected to exercise social distancing regularly and religeously.

 

Reset of the global economy 

 We can already see that some businesses will not recover from this crisis so unemployment will increase in the short term. The retail sector analysts say that the current trade freeze is a nail to the coffin of the British high street – a famed retail epicentre. This crisis has already reshaped numerous sectors within a space of a month – everything from tourism or entertainment. The net-result of this economic shift is quite simply that some sectors will be changed beyond recognition. Others sadly will vanish altogether.

A new way to contribute to society

Due to the aforementioned global reset, some of us will face the dire reality of unemployment. Careers will collapse due to the vanishing of the demand for certain jobs. These people will require certain resources to survive and need to acquire different skills to exist in society. The onus will rest on governments and those who will be lucky enough to return to their pre-crisis jobs, to financially support these groups until they acquire the skills needed for their new reality. 

Shift in skills demand

After a short period of readjustment, new businesses and business models will pop up to serve this new reality. Old competencies will be replaced by a demand for new skills. In his book, the “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” Yuval Noah Harari offers a good example – “the replacement of human pilots by drones has eliminated some jobs but created many new opportunities in maintenance, remote control, data analysis, and cybersecurity.” 

Urgency of reskilling to survive

We can only speculate what those new jobs will be, but whatever these new vocations resemble, people will have to re-skill quickly to play their parts. Some will opt for an easy option and switch to jobs that don’t require extensive training e.g. from retail to warehouse jobs. The more realistic eventuality though will be that loads of people will see this imposed ‘crossroad’ as an opportunity for reinventing their career. Some might even opt for a completely new profession. 

Lockdown to upskill 

How much more appealing this career reinvention would be if we could be trained to become a skilled in a medical field in a fraction of the time. Also, how much more realistic it would be to pursue a new career dream if we could afford to have a break from earnings for a period of study. Across the globe, governments have committed to paying their citizens to stop working due to the fear of spreading the virus. This is already shifting our attitudes towards earning: “it is not a moral hazard to pay people without expecting work in return.”  Dr. Lynette Nusbacher, a strategist and former government advisor argues that ‘Instead of individual value to the economy being calculated by how much they produce, it would be based on their consumption – the way in which they spend the money given to them by the government.’

If the lockdown time and the ‘lockdown money’ were spent on developing new skills desperately needed by the economy surely it would be a win-win for individuals and society.

Cure for the global pandemic of skills shortage 

Shouldn’t we make this crisis a turning point and a reason for resetting our mindsets and economic mechanisms as Dr Nusbacher suggests? Coronavirus or not the job displacements and skills shortages have been looming since automation, digitalization and advancements in AI entered key industries such as Manufacturing, Healthcare or Financial sector. Thus, professional reinvention is more important than ever. A desire for a sustainable and fulfilling life in new reality will push us to reinvent our career thus we will have no choice but to start and never stop learning again.

Bottom line is that there has never been more urgency for lifelong education and for innovative ways of training people faster and more sustainably than now. Harari hopes that ‘if we manage to combine a universal economic safety net with a strong community and meaningful pursuits, losing out jobs to algorithms may actually turn out to be a blessing.”

SBH I4I Event 4 September 2019

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Formed partnership with Salem Balhamer Holding (SBH) to build our presence in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. The event helped advance the adoption of Industry 4.0 manufacturing processes in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia.

My Future 4 at CTICC

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Practeria is proud to be exhibiting at the upcoming My Future 4 exhibition and conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from the 1st to 3rd October. The Summit highlights the impact the 4th Industrial Revolution has and will have on every industry and career choice. It is not merely a buzzword that can be ignored, and parents, children, students, and graduates need to keep up to date with changes happening on a daily basis.

The workforce of tomorrow will have to prepare for careers that may not even exist now and will need to develop skill sets to cope and thrive. The My Future 4.0 Summit focuses not only on the jobs of tomorrow but the skills needed for those jobs.

Please visit Practeria at Stand B4 and find out how we can help you prepare the workforce of the future.

See the link: My Future 4.0

COVID-19: Why Rwanda should embrace blended learning

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Students are advised to make use of the education modules available online. / Net photo.

Since the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Rwanda, the government tightened measures it deemed adequate to mitigate the risks of transmission of the virus. Among others, a decision that all schools and higher education institutions (both public and private) would close for an initial two-week period starting Monday, March 16, 2020.

The health ministry has announced this is likely to be extended due to the continual increase in the number of patients.

With more than 400 million students disrupted due to the spread of COVID-19, Rwandans included, we are experiencing a watershed moment for education systems around the world.

It tragically illustrates the need for educational institutions to build a technological backbone and digital competency to weather this crisis, and to enter a new era of teaching and learning in a digital world.

Therefore, the government’s education bodies realized that if nothing was done for students to continue learning in a formal way while at home, we can expect the fact that this global pandemic will shake the education system.

“We are instructing all the lecturers to upload all the modules online, so that they are made accessible to every student,” Dr Charles Muligande, University of Rwanda’s Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of institutional capacity, tells Education.

The same case applies to primary and secondary schools, where students are urged to use REB’s learning platform, which is elearning.reb.rw.

DR Ndayambaje Irenee, Director General of Rwanda Education Board, tells Education that since the closure of schools due to COVID-19, the number of people visiting the platform has multiplied three times.

However, though these measures have been put in place, it is necessary to assess whether students and teachers are prepared to use this online system, and if this mode can be adopted as credible for education in Rwanda.

To students

Audrine Iradukunda, an assistant lecturer in Kigali-based Southern New Hampshire University (which uses blended learning mode), says that this is a good initiative that is in drive with the competency-based curriculum.

“As students are in this unexpected break, blended learning shall help them to embrace more tech-skills practices as long as they engage with a laptop in most of their activities”, she says, adding that those tech-skills are crucial to Rwandan students in this era of technology.

Egide Abimana, an education consultant with six years’ experience of coaching students via Google classes, narrates how he has seen blended learning manufacturing a weak student into a well-rounded individual with a good sense of what education means.

“Whenever you know you are responsible for yourself, you become mentally mature and committed. In face-to-face teaching, you just sit and wait for a lecturer to feed you, cram what he fed and do the exam,” he says, adding that in blended learning, you make your own research which allows you to be more proactive.

To teachers (facilitators)

According to, Tharcisse Maniragaba, a senior physics facilitator at Byimana School of Sciences, blended learning removes most of the excuses and barriers that students face in their academic life.

“Blended learning removes the excuses of absences due to weather conditions or sicknesses and other obstacles. This is true because all classes are online and a student can access them any time,” Maniragaba saysm stipulating that nothing can stop you, it is about self-pace.

Challenges

However, in this academic journey, several challenges are still down the road if blended learning is to be pursued: Poor internet connection, lack of enough laptops and small percentage of 52.8% who have access to electricity means.

Dr Irénée Ndayambaje says that they are aware of the challenges and are going to find a way to stream those courses on radios and TV to be able to reach all the students. 

Dr Charles Muligande says that they are going to negotiate with telecommunication companies to lower the prices for UR students using the e-learning platform, and says that there should be no worry for students who could not access the internet because the courses will resume from where they stopped before the quarantine.

“For students engaging with online materials, it is just a way to keep track of their studies, but once the students are back, they shall be starting afresh”, he told Education.

Experts also say that this blended learning is more applicable in non-calculation courses for higher learning students. If used for lower level students, parents’ supervision is obligatory.

Why data literacy is key to surviving Industry 4.0 (Dr. Nick Jewell, Director of Product Strategy, Alteryx – Gigabit Magazine)

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Look out of your window today and, while you might not realize it, the world is in the midst of a revolution.

Things might appear totally normal. People are still commuting to and from work, shops remain open for business, and communication lines are functioning as they should. But we are actually living through the early stages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution which is sometimes also known as Industry 4.0.

Coined in 2016 by the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab, the term refers to new technologies becoming intertwined with our day-to-day lives and how they will connect us, our bodies and our buildings like never before. While it is the sci-fi nature of AI and robotics that grabs the headlines, the key to their success is the data that they rely on to work.

All three previous industrial revolutions have been characterized by massive changes to the way the world works. Whether it was the Agrarian Age changing the way we farm and eat, the Industrial Age transforming manufacturing, or the Information Age spawning rapid advances in computing and digital systems, each one has led to an increase in how much data we generate as a species.

Now, as we enter the Analytics Age, we finally have the tools to make sense of it all and potentially solve any problem the world has ever faced. But there are reasons to be cautious too.

Not every change brought about by the previous industrial revolutions has been a benefit to all, with the new developments initially limited to those with the necessary money to invest, leading to a polarisation of wealth and power.

Technology has moved so quickly in recent years that a digital divide has opened up, and with unprecedented automation in particular set to alter the landscape like never before, there are similar fears that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will actually increase inequality in a world already plagued by it. 

Of course, it doesn’t need to be that way. These new technologies have the potential to kickstart economies and improve lives worldwide – so how do we stop people and businesses from getting left behind?

Data now informs all kinds of areas of the modern world, with the good use of it leading to better decision-making and more profitable businesses. Data literacy should, therefore, be treated as a crucial skill for pretty much everyone. That does not mean everyone needs to become a qualified data scientist. But for companies to successfully implement digital transformation initiatives, they must first focus on building a culture of data literacy within their company. Only by empowering data workers at all levels of the company, regardless of technical acumen, to become more data literate as well as improve their analytic knowledge, will companies succeed.

Training employees to use analytics tools can help companies to capitalize on the information that is at their fingertips. Forums such as the Alteryx Community are full of data science and analytics experts, keen to share new ways of working with data. After all, new technologies offer many exciting possibilities, but there is no point in having all this extra data if nobody knows what to do with it. According to a 2019 study by NewVantage Partners, 92.5% of respondents blamed people or processes for an inability to adopt a data-driven approach to their business.

We should, however, pay particular attention to those traditionally left behind by technological progress. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is defined by its focus on science and tech – a world dominated by men, and particularly white men. This diversity imbalance puts women at an immediate disadvantage as the world and workplaces are changed by emerging technologies.

Although gender, ethnic and cultural diversity in technology and analytics is no longer a rarity. For organizations to benefit from this recent increase in diversity, a collaborative and supportive infrastructure must be created to enhance the industry, culture, and workspaces with the missing half of the human experience.

The analytics space is particularly attractive for women – almost half of the analytics professionals are women. With a diverse group of analysts around the table working through insights to solve for key business insights, the approach is richer when women and men work together to deliver answers.

The most successful firms over the next decade or so will, therefore, be the ones that understand the need to transform their workforces in line with their data management practices to ensure nobody gets left behind.

Alteryx embodies this approach with its Alteryx for Good program and Women of Analytics initiative, which use events, discussions and community activities to share knowledge and encourage diversity at every level. These help to ensure that projects are completed collectively rather than in cultural silos, making any challenges easier to overcome. 

The potential of Industry 4.0 is huge – but revolutions don’t take place in a vacuum. The key component to success—data literacy—comes from within, and companies will only realize that full potential if they foster data-driven cultures fuelled by collaboration and diversity, presenting an opportunity for everyone to accelerate their careers by embracing analytic roles.

By Dr Nick Jewell, Director of Product Strategy, Alteryx 

Marketing Director

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Commercial Executive veteran with over 30 years in various industries, (Automotive to Broadcasting, ITC/Telecoms to Energy Consultancy) working at MD, VP Marketing & Sales, VP Production and GM positions with large companies such as  Renault, CNN International, Middle-East Broadcast Centre, Orbit Communications  (OSN), EVS Group or with the UK Dept of Trade & Industry.

All his career was spent in an international trade environment in several countries: the USA, the UK, Italy, France, Belgium, Cyprus, the Middle East and Africa. He gained a Master’s degree with Honours in Political Science and Economics from Grenoble University, France.

Industry 4.0 – can current education prepare the next generation?

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Industry 4.0 brings with it changes in terms of employability on a scale that demands a response from educational institutions. The fourth Industrial Revolution focusses on the coming together of digital, biological and physical worlds into the Cyber-Physical coalition.

The rise of automation (being an unavoidable result of this fusion) creates a new, unchartered manufacturing landscape. This scenario brings with it unique challenges for the generation tasked to navigate it. Higher education must adequately prepare these role-players. Digitalization has taken over factories, radically exposing the shortage of- and the demand for certain skills.

Digital natives are becoming increasingly skeptical of higher education institutions – often reactive and sluggish in terms of innovation – to supply and adequately prepare for a world these organizations don’t comprehend themselves. The ironic reality is that should they recreate their digital vision of- and appetite for this new industrial landscape, universities can flourish.

If however, Universities and colleges continue with outdated practices, habitually characterized by the drive to fill lecture halls and dormitories, the only meaningful contribution they will continue making is to the ever-increasing digital debt.

A paradigm shift is required if tertiary institutions are to play any meaningful role in shaping a digitally competent workforce. Furthermore, higher education institutions have to focus on integration & synchronized-evolution of people, processes and technology. Structures of learning/skills development need to be applied in such a way that outcomes and potential problem-solving are supported.  Adapt to the demand for new skills by embracing change, by proactively preparing for it.

The tertiary education sector must, therefore, embrace pending changes if they are to be part of the automation revolution.

SKILLS TRAINING IN VR CANNOT JUST BE ABOUT A GREAT EXPERIENCE

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The appetite for immersive technology applications in Manufacturing and Engineering is growing

Leading manufacturers in the UK such as Airbus, Honeywell, and BAE Systems are now exploring and embracing new advancements in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) to areas of product design, prototyping and maintenance – and reaping the benefits.

Manufacturers and Engineering businesses such as these can now see that by integrating new learning, training and skill acquisition methods, long-term, sustainable benefits can be realized. VR and AR applications are increasingly being used to upskill new employees, trainees and experienced staff in a much more cost-effective way than ever before.

Manufacturers and Engineering businesses such as these can now see that by integrating new learning, training and skill acquisition methods, long-term, sustainable benefits can be realised. VR and AR applications are increasingly being used to upskill new employees, trainees and experienced staff in a much more cost-effective way than ever before.

Early skepticism around VR and AR being a fad is being swept away and replaced by businesses taking an altogether new and open-minded approach to meeting their skills demands.

A recent World Economic Forum White Paper (The New Production Workforce: Responding to Shifting Labour Demands, January 2018) suggested that the ‘Thoughtful use of digital technologies can help to improve the performance of skills programs at every stage and that Virtual-Reality technology can demonstrate the proper way to carry out new tasks and give an employee a safe environment in which to practice’. Crucially, it stated that ‘Digital platforms can help administer programs and connect workers and employers with training resources’.

Using simulated learning technology

offers a risk-free, supportive environment where learners can master new skills without a need for face-to-face contact with a tutor or even a machine. Uninitiated staff can learn and practice new skills as many times as they want with no time or cost limit. Immersive technology could reduce demand for the physical presence of trainers and service engineers at clients’ locations. Such training solutions have become an attractive proposition to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) as it may transform their post-commission training into virtual or even a customer self-training solution.

Siemens, DMG Mori, and Stratasys are just a few of the global manufacturing equipment producers who will benefit from the introduction of VR and AR to their training and their customer services.

However, these benefits can only be delivered if the learners can practice new skills in VR or AR with no barriers and if these applications can lead them to achieve desired learning and performance outcomes. Often learner needs are not at the forefront of the VR/AR design processes. They are overshadowed by the desire of immersive studios to show off capabilities of the technology and by the limitations of still fairly new software and hardware.

If immersive technology is to be widely adopted in training we, the immersive application builders & training providers, need to be clear on how applications to support learners throughout their learning journey is designed so, at the end of their VR or AR training, they not only gain a memory of great experience but become suitably equipped to deliver the expected job performance outcomes.

To achieve this, the learner’s needs and the stakeholders’ expectations must be a primary motivation for a VR developer in creating any learning or performance improvement applications.

Ultimately, the manufacturing and engineering industries need to feel confident about the effectiveness of such applications.

They need to be convinced that they will provide a better alternative for their skills and performance development than current options.

At the end of the day, only tools that accelerate skills development and performance improvements, leading to businesses gaining competitive advantage will win through – otherwise what’s the point?

Immersive Training using Virtual Reality

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Tutorial: Friday 28 February @2pm:

Practeria, a digital training company with strong capabilities in immersive technologies, will be demonstrating the model of a smart factory through an avatar using VR headsets

LEARNING HOW TO OPERATE CNC MACHINE USING VIRTUAL REALITY

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VR scenarios

We have designed a series of VR scenarios to facilitate the development of the role-essential, technical skills for CNC Machine Operators. Using VR technology our trainees can practice various machining tasks in a safe, risk-free environment. They are encouraged to make mistakes and observe the consequences of their errors in the VR world. Before stepping into a real work environment, the VR applications facilitate their competence building in operating machines and applying various machining processes without a need for accessing a real machine or expensive workshop equipment.