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How do we address skills needs in transport innovation?

The Connected Places Catapult is the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport, and place leadership, working alongside key partners to accelerate innovation in the places where we live, work and travel. By assessing, predicting, mapping and delivering much-needed skills for the future, the Catapult is helping to overcome emerging gaps which threaten to impact success in this area of national importance.

In the Higher and Further Education sectors, the Connected Places Catapult is mapping existing skills capabilities and identifying academic partners who can help drive innovation through workforce development and thought leadership. By leveraging local and regional collaborations their work in this area is helping to develop sustainable clusters of economic activity.

The Connected Places Catapult works, most notably, alongside the Department for Transport (DfT) to review and report on skills shortfalls, challenges and trends within transport systems, and cross-sectoral areas including multi-modal freight, which involves moving goods using at least two methods of transportation. The Connected Places Catapult is involved in ongoing collaborative work with other Catapults and Innovate UK to develop an innovative approach to skills foresighting.

Future activities include engaging with Further Education colleges local to the UK’s first Station Innovation Zone at Bristol Temple Meads station. In Glasgow, the Catapult is supporting the Connected Airport Living Lab to develop a holistic vision of Glasgow Airport as a highly innovative net zero place, which plays an important part in developing the city region’s skills base and full economic potential. It aims to boost productivity and will accelerate decarbonisation of ground and air operations, including the electrification of flight, the use of hydrogen, automation data analytics and multi-modal connected surface-level access.

The Connected Places Catapult will also be providing support through industry participation to the Centre for Doctoral Training at the Universities of Cambridge, Nottingham and Newcastle on the Future of the Built Environment and Geospatial Systems.

The Future Aviation Security Solutions Industrial PhD Partnerships programme (FASS IPP) is bringing together academia and industry to focus on the future of aviation security. The Connected Places Catapult organised this competition to bring the UK’s leading academics together with businesses to develop new and exciting research projects, preparing for the future of aviation security. The scheme is a jointly funded programme by the DfT and the Home Office to further enhance the UK’s aviation security for the future. This will be done by funding new research in this area whilst also developing a pool of future leaders in the aviation security field.

Building on the Gemini Principles, established by the Centre for Digital Built Britain, the Digital Twin Hub at Connected Places Catapult is addressing the future of digital twin skills. The Hub is creating an Alliance of infrastructure owners and operators and working closely with education providers, including Cranfield University and the Open Data Institute (ODI), to create industry-ready training at several levels.

Within and across the transportation sector, thought leadership plays an important role in identifying where skills gaps exist. In areas such as digital twin technologies, future skills shortages may naturally emerge as innovation changes the requirements of the working environments and may also highlight the potential for skills transfer between complementary sectors.

Airports are changing, from being just transport hubs on the edge of cities to becoming hives of innovative economic activity. As such, they have huge potential to support skills development, job creation and regional growth.

Paul Wilson
Chief Business Officer, Connected Places Catapult