We are presently preparing for our session for Realcomm/IBcon San Diego next week "The Skills Gap – How do we Find, Train and Retain Our Future Smart Building Professionals."
The event is about the intersection of commercial and corporate real estate, technology, automation, and innovation. Our session focuses on perhaps the most critical question facing our industry: How do we attract new, high-quality workers to the intelligent buildings space?
We have all heard the stories: math and science skills are declining; Millennials need work incentives; the next generation is not interested in buildings; and the schools are not training for our industry. The bottom line is that there is a skilled workforce shortage and it is only getting worse.
Some speculate that there are 1,000,000 IT jobs and 500,000 facility jobs currently vacant due to a skills gap. There is an even greater shortage when you combine the need for both traditional building automation and IT skill sets. There have been creative attempts to find, train and retain industry professionals, but these are not scalable or sustainable. This instructive segment will focus on the growing talent problem in the smart building industry and what it will take to fill the skills gap.
One of the topics for discussion will be open source education and the potential of online open source formal learning by autodidactic folks which is evolving from the valuable work being done by http://www.ecusectordwm.com/
This reminded me of some of the editorials I had written in the past on this subject. This article from a Haystack Connect talks about the new bridge created by the "Millennium Makers and Hobbyists" who are poised to enter our industry. The key takeaway? Open education is only possible when we open the gates of our industry. From the article:
The performance and low-cost of hobbyist computers such as Raspberry Pi and Beagleboard are truly amazing, and they are already finding their way into commercial products. Coupled with open source software such as Sedona Framework and Project Haystack can we now achieve low or no-cost control and data modeling for our buildings?
To achieve the ability to grow our assets, our people we need to create a self-learning culture within our companies and communities. For the last several years, I have been exploring ideas on how we might achieve this. Some of these editorials are:
We are constantly striving to grow our industry younger, yet we fall short of quantity, quality, and connection to the young folks who might be attracted to our industry.
Could we be the problem? Do we all give of ourselves and seek opportunities to mentor those around us? When I reflect on my five decades in the control industry, I sometimes wonder how did this happen? How did I get from being a kid on a small farm to mentoring and penning this plea? What were some of the key things that put me in this industry?
I recently wrote this article published in BACnet journal and will pull some thoughts from it for the session and this article: Be the Mentor to Grow BACnet Younger (http://www.bacnetinternational.org/page/journal)
I am pleased to have this article in the journal, but it points to the fact that us old mentors need to be retreaded as we are losing our grip!
This, from a recent conversation I had with Andy McMillan, the President and Managing Director of BACnet International gives me hope that the coming generation of home automation professionals will have the tools and information they need to take their careers as far as they want them to go:
McMillan: The BACnet Institute, or TBI, is an online learning environment that serves as a central location for educational course offerings, active community interaction and a curated library of multimedia resources. The intent is to serve as a comprehensive online source of information and education related to BACnet system implementation, as well as promote the successful, global use of the BACnet protocol. It operates under the administration of BACnet International in collaboration with the BACnet Interest Group – Europe (BIG-EU) and other BACnet industry groups.
All of this is just a primer to the work being done to bridge the skill gaps and encourage anytime, anywhere, autodidactic open education.
Ken Sinclair Editor/Owner/Founder