This year, AIChE is redoubling its dedication to the success of chemical engineers everywhere with the launch of our new Institute for Learning and Innovation. The debut of this new center coincides with the rapidly changing needs of a community that is seeing career trajectories — and opportunities — taking new and yet-to-be discovered directions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an abrupt disjunction for many of us. Although we won’t know for a while how our lives and livelihoods will change for the long haul, what happens beyond this juncture — for each of us — will be largely in our own hands.
We at AIChE have been exploring the concept of “Career Discovery.” In this approach to career-path planning, rather than asking learners the question “what do you want to do,” we think it is better to ask “what types of things might you like to do in the next five to ten years?” Using this approach, we then identify the skills and experiences you might need to get there. Several of us did a recent AIChE Doing a World of Good podcast on this topic.
Filling the skills gap — for both an individual’s career growth and for the solution of societal needs — is especially important for the world of today. Technology is transforming all market sectors. The pace of change continues to accelerate and the need for constant learning and skills development is critical. This means that jobs — and the skills required for competency and success — are always changing. To stay vital, everyone in the workforce must continually learn new things — to acquire the right tools for today’s jobs and keep them sharp.
As a center for career development, the Institute for Learning and Innovation aims to provide learners — from undergraduates to seasoned professionals — with new insight, new direction, new credentials, and new skills.
The plan begins with Career Discovery — your personal skills assessment. This data-driven process, customized for each engineer, will help chemical engineer to home in on the types of jobs they might find most fulfilling, and identify the skills, experiences, and aptitudes they’ll need to get there.
The next step, of course, is the right training — provided, in part, by the courses, webinars, and other eLearning opportunities offered through the AIChE Academy. Complimenting some of this new education will be professional credentialing in areas that employers seek for their employees, such as process safety and sustainability certification.
Capping it all off, the Institute for Learning and Innovation’s Practice+ component will guide learners to industry co-ops and internships, allowing engineers to hone their newly acquired skills by applying them to practical problems.
The new Institute for Learning and Innovation will be ramping up in the coming months, and to make it successful we are seeking ideas and suggestions from the community. I encourage all AIChE members to make the Institute for Learning and Innovation a partner in their future endeavors.