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Keith Bevan


Taking on the Metrology Workforce Problem

Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - 10:08

As the world heads into the fourth industrial revolution, we are still struggling with skills gaps and workforce shortages in the metrology industry. These skills are critical not only to manufacturers and scientists, but to virtually all growth sectors around the world. Taking a fresh look at how to solve these pressing challenges is paramount to enabling innovation, fulfilling workforce needs, and sustaining a vibrant manufacturing community in our respective countries.

As a member of the Coordinate Metrology Society (CMS), I have long been involved in the organization’s education and certification initiatives, including the Education and Measurement Zones at our annual conference, the CMSC. I have also served as a group leader for training at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the United Kingdom. My work has given me insights into the efforts and programs required to not only inspire a whole new generation of metrologists, but what it will take to deliver talented and skilled professionals to industry.

Recently, NPL conducted a survey among industry managers representing the full range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills within industry. The response was strong with 75 percent of the participants ranking metrology skills as very important to their company. The word “metrologist” was used in the survey covering a variety of roles including, but not limited to, measurement engineer, manufacturing engineer, inspector, calibration technician, quality engineer, testing technician, and coordinate measurement engineer. The majority of those surveyed employed between three and 10 metrologists, and one company employed more than 100 metrologists.

The majority of managers also believed that metrology skills shortages are having some sort of effect on their businesses, with 64 percent stating that the effect was significant or fairly significant. The main reasons employers find it difficult to recruit people with the required metrology skills are due to, first, the lack of necessary specialist skills (45 percent), second, the low numbers of applicants (29%), and third, insufficient experience (13%). The overall survey results provide persuasive evidence of existing skills gaps and skills shortages across metrology industries, which negatively affects productivity, quality, technical development, and more.

How do we solve the metrology skills shortage? We can start by acknowledging the lack of formal and nationally recognized applied training courses in metrology, as well as the inadequate coverage of metrology content within existing STEM courses and apprenticeships. The NPL survey has justified work toward a professional metrology apprenticeship program in the UK. Initiatives in the United States, such as the CMS level-one and level-two certification programs, play a critical role in providing the necessary competencies for this new industrial revolution. Work must continue on curriculum that is integrated into academic and vocational qualifications, workplace learning programs, and industrial apprenticeships. I encourage you to share any ideas, current work in metrology training, successes, and incubator projects with the CMS at pastchair@cmsc.org.


About The Author

Keith Bevan’s picture

Keith Bevan

Keith Bevan is the training network delivery manager at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) of the United Kingdom's National Measurement Institute. He is responsible for the delivery network activities of NPL's training framework, training materials, and quality of delivery.  Bevan has been involved in measurement for 40 years having joined Rolls-Royce Ltd (aero engines) in 1975 as an apprentice working across a range of metrology activities including engine testing, manufacturing, coordinate metrology, and calibration. Bevan helps develop and implement global learning solutions in metrology and good-practice guides for industry. Currently Bevan is the executive committee chairman of the Coordinate Metrology Society.


Metrology Training

Well done Kieth!

Unfortuantely, the vast majority of people (be they business management or the general population) do not truly recognize the impact of metrology on, literally, every aspect of modern life. That which is unseen, is unappreciated.

And, as I have oft noted, many times the producers of high end metrology systems do themselves, and metrology in general, a disservice in the way they describe the ease of use of their equipment. With the amount of technology seen everywhere, many often interpret these claims of ease as "import the model, load the part, push the button, and get an inspection report".