Fujitsu expands Operation Innovation competition

The competition’s aim is to reduce the skills gap between education and employment

Fujitsu UK and Ireland launched its Operation Innovation competition for the second year running, as it seeks to close the gap between education and employment when it comes to digital skills. Giving 60 students the opportunity to develop skills that will help them compete in the digital era, Fujitsu has expanded the programme to 15 education establishments, including 12 of Fujitsu’s Education Ambassadors, alongside partners – Intel, Brocade and Kyocera.

Students aged 16+ from 15 education institutions across the UK compete to develop a proof of value proposal that will solve a real-world problem using ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) technology. The issue can sit within one of three sectors: education, utilities or manufacturing – all industries in which IoT is already beginning to have a significant impact. The winning team will have the opportunity to pitch their proposal to Dr Joseph Reger, CTO of Global Business at Fujitsu, at Fujitsu Forum in Munich later this year. 

Building on the success of last year’s nation-wide competition which saw students from Watford University Technical College win with its ‘BioBand’ idea, the competition aims to give students a head start as they enter the working world. As well as providing experience with a UK business operating in the technology space, the competition helps build confidence for students as they interact with industry professionals, learn to work as a team and develop presentation skills.

Ash Merchant, Education Director, Fujitsu said: “After the success of last year’s competition, we’re thrilled to be able to give young people the opportunity to explore how technologies such as IoT can be used to solve some of the world’s toughest social problems.

2016’s winners from Watford UTC

“Seeing what they’re able to come up with is a real breath of fresh air, and a testament to value young people can offer in helping shape the way our industries embrace digital. It’s important that young people feel they have a voice in the business world, and we believe working with industry partners will help educators achieve that.”

James Maynard, Offering Management Director Global IoT & Innovation, Fujitsu said: “The Internet of Things or IoT is changing the way we live and work. In our recent Fit for Digital survey, 73% of c-suite decision makers said technology lies at the heart of an organisations ability to thrive, yet in the UK we’re seeing a worrying gap in STEM-related skills. Working with industry to offer vocational experiences through projects like this will ensure as a country we’re prepared for whatever our digital future will bring.”

Lewis Shaughnessy, Student at Watford University Technical College said: “I took part in Operation Innovation due to the opportunities it offered me professionally and personally. In depth research, thinking outside the box, developing presentation skills and interacting with industry professionals was just part of it. The trip to Munich as winners was the highlight of my experience; it allowed me to network and get a taste for what working for a large tech company might be like.

‘Our pitch with Dr Reger was tough but inspiring, especially since we knew getting some time with him was a big deal. I’ve taken many things from my involvement in the project, including learning how to manage myself in a professional setting. I really enjoyed the Fujitsu factory trip too as seeing so many industrial processes close up was really beneficial to my Computing subject studies.”

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