BBC says that robots would replace up to 20 million factory jobs by 2030. But how about getting a job where you control these robots. That is where the career opportunities in industrial automation comes into picture, but unfortunately there seems to be very less awareness about this field and the scope it brings in. Here is an interesting interview with Archana Amarnath, Head – Human Capital, B&R Industrial Automation where she talks about the hiring trends in automation & IoT, opportunities for freshers, training and B&R’s education network with Ankita KS from EFY Group. Excerpts follow..
Q: What is the trend in the hiring process you see in industrial automation today?
Hiring in industrial automation has always been a challenge owing to reasons such as lack of awareness on the career path in industrial automation and the pull towards an IT industry perceived as lucrative by many due to its massive size and spread. However, today the awareness amongst students is growing due to digitization and IoT. Today, we witness students keen to work with robots, connected devices and IoT in universities for projects. This has provided a greater impetus for recruiters from industrial automation.
We at B&R, focus on hiring not only experienced professionals but also fresher’s from colleges. We have an extensive four month engineering camp as a training for everyone joining us as application engineers and developers, which enables them to become ready in the field of automation.
Q: What is the key technology skill sets that are in demand in the industrial automation today?
We cannot generalise skill sets to an industry. Every organization looks for talent in line with their business requirements. We have been a strong practitioner of hiring for the right attitude, aptitude and work ethics. We at B&R prefer a solution oriented approach coupled with being customer centric and being able to provide end-to-end solutions.
Q: How would you advise an aspirant on the right steps to follow while applying for a job in automation sector?
The main aim of any individual while enrolling for the engineering degree is to secure his or her future by getting a job. Moreover, a clear career path and growth are aspects looked at by experienced professionals. I would ask any job aspirant to gain preliminary knowledge about the industry they are willing to join. I would ask fresher’s to highlight any interactions with automation during their time at universities. When we look at experienced professionals, I would recommend to provide a clear highlight of their prior relevant experience.
Usually as a hiring manager, we get a lot of resumes and our initial filter is based on an overview of key highlights matching our requirements. In case the candidate has not enlisted clearly those keywords in the resume essential for the job then the resume gets automatically filtered out. Thus, it is very important that the candidate has good knowledge on the subject and has mentioned it on their resumes. In addition, I would recommend aspirants to read the job description clearly before applying making it easier for them to enter the new organization. Finally, do not bluff on your resume as more often than not gets caught during interviews.
Q: What would be your advice to academia–how should they reinvent their curriculum to create techies suitable for the IoT and automation industry?
Engineering curriculum has always been lagging behind the industry. Even today, we might be learning something which has been in practice decades ago. However, the scenario is changing, but the change is really slow. There is a great divide between new technologies being introduced in the market vs the rate at which curriculum is changing. In my opinion, as an industry we need to help academia to update the curriculum at regular intervals. It is also wise to have more hands-on practical supporting the theoretical knowledge being gained in classrooms.
Q: What steps can academic institutions take to bridge the industry-academia gap for the automation sector? Do you have a formal Internship programme to train freshers for the industry?
Technology is rapidly evolving and it is essential for an individual to stay updated on technology to stay ahead in the competitive market. Training plays a vital role in upskilling. B&R Education Network was established with a view to bridge the gap between educational institutions and industry. With our exhaustive training focusing on colleges we enable students to be ready with automation knowledge and skill sets even before they graduate from colleges and being their hunt for jobs in the industry. We provide a comprehensive and field tested training in automation with a well-tuned start-up support for training. With B&R education network, institutes are able to produce quality engineers with knowledge on latest technology used in industry. Any college can make use of our education network program by contacting us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
B&R Education network is not an internship program but a program enabling them to gain industry knowledge with guest lectures from B&R employees and hands-on working on industrial products in their colleges. This enables them to work on real life work cases.
Q: Can you share how is B&R Education Network it designed to actually make students industry-ready?
We encourage the academia to make use of such initiatives by fellow industry organizations helping new age students become ready for the industry. With our exhaustive training focusing on colleges we enable students to be ready with automation knowledge and skill sets even before they graduate from colleges and being their hunt for jobs in the industry. We provide a comprehensive and field-tested training in automation with a well-tuned start-up support for training. With B&R education network, institutes are able to produce quality engineers with knowledge on latest technology used in industry.
Q: Over your decades of years of experience in the Industry, what are the key mistakes that you have that you have seen made by the candidates? What would your advice to freshers in the industry be?
It is common for any candidate to commit mistakes whether he or she is a fresher or an experienced individual. However, I would suggest the mantra – reflect, retrospect and learn. It is important for any candidate to reflect on his mistakes, retrospect on the possible corrective measures and learn from it. It is also wise to learn from others mistake and trying to avoid it. Thus, committing mistakes is common, but only the wise will learn from it and become successful in their careers.
Q: What will be the hiring outlook at B&R Industrial Automation for the year 2020? Are you hiring or planning to hire talent for your business? If yes, can you share estimated numbers to be hired within the next 2 years?
B&R Industrial Automation, a business unit of the ABB Group is an innovative automation company with headquarters in Austria and offices all around the world. As a global leader in industrial automation, B&R combines state-of-the-art technology with advanced engineering to provide customers in virtually every industry with complete solutions for machine and factory automation, motion control, HMI and integrated safety technology. With Industrial IoT communication standards like OPC UA, POWERLINK and openSAFETY as well as the powerful Automation Studio software development environment, B&R is constantly redefining the future of automation engineering. The innovative spirit that keeps B&R at the forefront of industrial automation is driven by a commitment to simplifying processes and exceeding customer expectations.
Over the years, we have consistently grown in business volumes and size. We focus on our continued growth and constantly look for talent who is willing to accept challenges and exploring new frontiers.
Q: If yes, what are the type of roles for which you are planning to hire? Can you share brief idea about what these roles entail?
As a passionate organisation towards innovations our needs for hiring is vast and varies between electronics, mechatronics, instrumentation & control, robotics & automation and familiarity with different software platforms.
Q: What are skillsets that you would be looking at while hiring?
As a technology leader in the Industrial automation market our employees need to possess deep understanding of technology. They need to be individual contributors as well as be team players, which is a unique requirement fuelling the need for good communication and interpersonal skills. As B&R, we work with customers to resolve their complex and challenging application. Thus, the engineer should be able to think fast and be able to solve complex challenges under pressure.
Q: Is ‘quality talent’ a challenge that IoT players are going to face in India? Especially Industrial IoT?
Digitization, IoT and Industrial IoT are buzz words. We are an automation player and work on the operational technology side of the horizon in IoT. Thus, our focus in to enable the IT / OT convergence. With IoT and Industrial IoT gaining traction, the IT world is merely focusing on cloud applications and development. However, what the industry needs it collection of data from the field from machines and factories. Thus, we focus on basics and enable our customers become ready for the next industrial revolution. With our extensive training the engineering camp and the education network program for institutions we are easily able to tap potential from colleges as well as experienced professionals and make then ready for the IoT and Industrial IoT applications.
Q: IoT is considered an amalgamation of electronics, datacom and IT. Out of these three–which one is going to be the main achilles heel for the IoT sector, in terms of ready availability of good talent pool?
In my opinion, the main Achilles heel is in the understanding of Industrial IoT. Today, most of the students or experienced professionals think that Industrial IoT is about cloud, business intelligence, and data analytics. No doubt that data is the new oil. However, they fail to understand that to have any kind of software based solutions, it is essential to get data from assets. It is important part to connect not only new but brownfield assets to the IT infrastructure for data analytics. In India, maximum machines and factories are decade old and digitally isolated. It is important to get data from such digitally isolated assets and connect it to IT infrastructure.
Q: What would be your advice to professionals working in electronics or IT sector and eyeing a role in the industrial IoT space? Should they prepare themselves for making a switch? How?
With Industrial IoT, the boundaries between IT (information technology) and OT (operational technology) are diminishing. Thus, we see many of the IT companies entering the Industrial IoT space. However, it is essential for those aspirants eyeing a role in the Industrial IoT area to have a complete understanding of the manufacturing landscape and ecosystem. This will enable them to understand customer requirements on Industrial IoT with ease and be in a position to provide solutions for the challenges at hand.