New academy to tackle skills shortage, help 6,000 firms train staff
A programme to train thousands of industry workers in photonics has been established by a consortium of over 50 of Europe’s top photonics competence centres.
The initiative will help support around 6,000 companies - mostly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - with training over the next four years.
The European Photonics Academy will offer training courses beyond the lecture room with a strong focus on hands-on training. Course attendees will gain real-world experience using state-of-the-art design, manufacturing, test equipment and facilities. The academy’s training centres will offer unique courses across a wide range of photonics technology platforms and application domains. The programme will initially run for four years with the clear intention of becoming a sustainable long-term support to European industry.
Gaining access to the cutting-edge technical know-how and the hands-on skills required to utilise photonics technologies remains difficult for many companies, especially SMEs. The academy, launched by PhotonHub Europe, the full-service one-stop-shop Photonics Innovation Hub funded by the European Commission, will make it easy for SMEs in particular to fully exploit this critical enabling technology for their own innovation activities.
'For the first time the European Photonics Academy means that SMEs have a one-stop-shop to pick and choose from a large menu of training options, making it easy to get the exact training course suited to their needs. Companies can be assured that their employees are getting top quality training from best-in-class facilities since quality assurance is overseen by PhotonHub,' said Prof Peter O’Brien of the UCC Tyndall Institute in Ireland, who leads training support services at the academy.
'We expect to support 6,000 European companies with training over the next four years, each sending several employees on one or more of our courses, with several hundred companies immediately taking up photonics technologies in their applications and product manufacturing as early adopters. As a result, we believe the academy will be a massive catalyst for the take-up of photonics by European companies.'
The new academy will allow European workforces access to state-of-the-art photonics technologies and advanced methods of photonics manufacturing through structured training and education. To-date, 40 training centres across Europe have been selected for funding, with 10 more to be announced later this year. Critically all regions of Europe will have access to training, including those with little or no expertise in photonics, with centres as far apart as Ireland, Spain, Finland and Greece.
Three types of training courses are available:
- Online Training, geared towards new entrants to the photonics sector providing a half-day introduction to photonics and an overview of the key enabling power of photonics technologies for wide-ranging applications.
- Demo Centres, offering one-day training courses on-site with a focus on particular photonics technology applications.
- Experience Centres, offering in-depth three-day or five-day training courses with a strong focus on lab-based activities and hands-on working using state-of-the-art equipment and application demonstrator tools.