In today’s industrial world and with the accelerating use of new technologies, measuring instruments and measurement systems are at the heart of research, development and production services. These instruments ensure the performance of an industrial or commercial product by making processes more reliable through calibration of the measurements they make. Metrology (the science of measurement and its applications) is recognised as essential in cutting-edge industries such as pharmaceutical, aerospace, nuclear, automotive and defence. It is therefore giving rise to numerous national, international and sector specific standards with stricter requirements for the control and accuracy of measuring equipment.
However, at present, qualified and competent calibration technicians and engineers are rare and, as a result, are particularly sought after by companies in the sector. It is a job opportunity for young people that is too often overlooked.
“Metrology is a niche profession little known to students, while the need for measurement expertise is becoming a major issue for industry,” explains Chloé Bonnel, HR and Employment Manager at Trescal. This observation is shared by the other professionals in the sector: at the 2019 International Metrology Congress, a representative of the Ariane Group was sorry to see that the metrology training course at the IUT in Evreux (a partner of his company) only had 8 students at the start of the 2019 academic year, compared with 15 in 2017. “It’s a real problem,” continues Chloe Bonnel. “As resources become scarce, companies are fighting a war for talent, even though many young people are having difficulty finding jobs.” Students are turning away from metrology, either because they don’t know about the profession, or because they prefer to aim their studies towards engineering. ” Young people are often pushed to get a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. However, in our sector, it is quite possible to find a job and develop professionally with a 2 or a 3 year Higher Education diploma (Physical Measurements, Physical Techniques for Industry and Laboratories, or the Professional Metrology Degree).”
Attracting talent, the great challenge of metrology
The transformation of industrial working (IoT, Big Data, automation, robots, etc.) will only accentuate the problem. Indeed, the demand for calibration technicians will increase. Companies must therefore engage in awareness raising and training activities. We must give meaning to this profession and to make its importance known within the production chain and in R&D. At Trescal, where 70% of staff are technicians or engineers, there are a number of initiatives. “We rely heavily on structured apprentice programs supported by formal offsite education to a national qualification in the appropriate discipline, which account for 5% of our workforce. It is a good way to integrate, train and then hire young people. In the same way, at that level, we offer many internship opportunities.” Especially since there are real prospects for career development within the company. This year, two people who began their careers as technicians were appointed branch managers.
Training to build employee loyalty
Essential in supporting talent, training must be developed within companies. At Trescal, the goal is to allow technicians to develop their skills or to specialise in a specific area. “Whether in electrical/electronics, mechanical/dimensional, thermophysical or other physical measurement, at the Trescal Institute we have any number of training modules for our technicians.”
The profession of calibration technician has a bright future: Industry 4.0 will ensure its continued existence!