Mapping Digital Skills - Academic Survey
Digitalisation is a major megatrend of this century and holds the potential to drastically transform various industries and production techniques. Based on this trend, the term “Industry 4.0” has emerged, which is defined as the digitalisation (the process of employing digital technologies and information to transform businesses) of the manufacturing sector.

Industry 4.0 is conceived upon information and communication technologies including initiatives such as the Industrial Internet, Factories of The Future, Internet of Things, Physical Internet, Internet of Services, and Cyber-Physical Systems, to achieve a high degree of flexibility in production, higher productivity rates through real-time monitoring and diagnosis, and a lower wastage rate of material in production. Manufacturers prioritise digital performance management, real-time supply chain optimization, digital quality management, remote monitoring and control, predictive maintenance, and smart energy consumption. The changes these opportunities bring with them are the cause of significant changes in the job market and will change the portfolio of jobs available in the future (Hermann J. Feise and Eric Schaer, Education for Chemical Engineers 34 (2021) 78–86). The latest report by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (Bridging the skills gap in the biopharmaceutical industry, ABPI, 2022) highlights the increasing role data and digitalisation are playing within life sciences, R&D and manufacturing. However, it seems there is an inertia in the process industries to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies. Workers, including engineers, need to adapt more quickly than has been necessary in the past, and this pace of change will only continue to accelerate. Many workers teach themselves the required digital skills on the job, or digital projects are outsourced. Although this means that there may be some lag before such technologies have the opportunity to proliferate, the lack of suitable digital skills to address this impending need can only hamper industry progress.

The deployment of advanced digital tools is one of the core features of Industry 4.0 and Digitalisation. An important part of the preparation for Industry 4.0 is the adaptation of the education sector, in particular engineering education, to teach the development and use of digitalisation tools. According to the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) blog (, computing (digital) skills are among the top ten groups of skills that chemical engineers should be talking about. Digitalisation is also one of the three priority topics of IChemE’s Learned Society Committee currently and until 2024.  Chemical Engineering departments are challenged to step up to offer both on-site and online education to help fill digital skills gaps and prepare the graduates for future process manufacturing (Tutzing-Symposium, 2018). However, the pace of adoption of teaching digital technologies at universities is in general very slow, may not meet industry needs, and hence will result in a still wider gap under the current pace of change (Moisés Teles dos Santos, et al., Education for Chemical Engineers 22 (2018) 69–76).
The aim of this survey is to identify the digitalisation skills gap from both academic and employer perspectives. The results of the survey will assist in the development of a framework that defines the requirements and proposes a structure for the implementation of Digitalisation and Industry 4.0 concepts in the chemical and process engineering curriculum, teaching material and educational programmes that are attractive to prospective students and prepare them well for future applied smart manufacturing and industrial practice.

By participating in this survey, you will have the opportunity to share your experience with regard to Industry 4.0 and Digitalisation requirements. You will be contributing to improving the quality of engineering programmes and narrowing down the skills gap. This will in turn be beneficial to you, as you will receive information on the current state of teaching digital skills, employers’ concerns and future needs.

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