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Upskilling Sweden’s engineers through a unique course package

Hands holding a technical digital device
Industrial companies need to train their employees with technologies in automation, process industry and manufacturing as well as sustainable production in order to best meet the fourth industrial revolution. Photo: iStockphoto

How do we create a safe environment in which humans and robots can collaborate on handling hazardous materials? What do those working in the industry need to know about sustainable production processes, re-use and critical raw materials? Companies need to up-skill their employees to have competences for the fourth industrial revolution, industry 4.0, with new technologies mainly in automation, the processing industry, manufacturing and sustainable production.

The Faculty of Engineering, LTH, together with 13 other Swedish higher education institutions, has developed a course package called “Ingenjör 4.0”, which meets these needs with the help of the latest research.

“Sweden is too small for us to be competing for talent and knowledge between higher education institutions,” explains Christina Windwark, project participant and coordinator for the master’s programme in Sustainable Production at LTH. “We all contribute our own specialist knowledge with an awareness that the best competitive edge for Swedish industry can be gained through us collaborating.”

Different modules can be combined according to specific requirements

Today, there are 15 finished modules, each between 20 and 30 hours in length. In autumn 2023, Ingenjör 4.0 will be able to offer 30 modules that can be combined in various learning pathways, covering a broad range  from autonomous robots to visualisation and interface design for virtual reality. All the subjects can be grouped into four larger themes – Digitalisation, Automation, Smart Maintenance and Sustainability.

“We have asked the 300 participants who have completed various combinations whether they have had practical use for their new knowledge and the exercises they did. Almost 70 per cent replied that they were able to apply their new skills to their daily work and had been greatly helped by the courses. That is a very good endorsement,” says Christina Windmark.

Sweden is too small for us to be competing for talent and knowledge between higher education institutions

Pre-recorded lectures are alternated with online seminars and opportunities for exchanges between participants so that experience and inspiration can be made use of. Many companies allow their employees to set aside some of their working hours to take part in  the programme. A common arrangement is that ten percent of working hours is set aside during a period of five weeks. The participants can then follow the scheduled online meetings and decide themselves when the other parts are carried out.  .

Also relevant for smaller companies

Further development of the modules’ content is coming up, to evaluate whether they are also relevant to small and medium-sized companies. They are primarily designed and tested by large Swedish industrial firms. To secure interest and market Ingenjör 4.0, including to those who are not engineers, LTH has a collaboration with the Industrial Development Centre, IUC.

“We will be offering smaller companies the chance to try the programme free of charge, in exchange for feedback about whether the content can be implemented in their operations,” Christina Windmark explains.

Robot arms working with cars
In the training, various educational paths are combined with everything from autonomous robots to visualization and interfaces for virtual realities. Photo: iStockphoto

A completed training module results in a course certificate. The modules have been designed for engineers but can be studied without having an engineering degree. The cost is moderate, just under SEK 2,000 per module.

Research creates benefits for society through education

The courses give Swedish industry clear competitive advantages and could become an ongoing resource for lifelong learning. Regardless of our educational background, today we all need to top-up with current knowledge and acquire new tools for the transition to a more digital, automated and sustainable way of working.

“The programme is also an important way for us to disseminate the research that exists and make sure that it is applied in practice. We are really living up to the University’s third mission – that the results of research also serve society and that the knowledge is spread widely,” Christina Windmark underlines.

The collaboration between all the participating higher education institutions is positive in itself. The project is managed by Halmstad University, and all higher education institutions contribute their own specialist skills and profile areas.

“We are too small a country to be competing amongst ourselves when it comes to developing skills – this is something we do so much better when we collaborate,” says Christina Windmark. “I also think that this project, in which we meet every two weeks, creates good conditions for other collaborations between the universities. We gain inspiration and can copy good initiatives or connect different contacts and become so much better together.”


About Ingenjör 4.0

Researchers within sustainable production systems, technical logistics and design at LTH are contributing to the module-based educational platform Ingenjör 4.0. Many of them are engaged in the strategic research area SPI – Sustainable Production Initiative.

Ingenjör 4.0 – Upskilling for future manufacturing

Christina Windmark

Christina Windmark

Read more about Christina Windmark´s research in Lund University Research Portal