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Hugo Thienpont explains to Optica why Photonhub is a game changer in photonics training & reskilling


"The optics community continues to wrestle with a shortage of skilled technical workers for labs and shop floors—a decades-long problem that could hold back the industry’s growth." Optica's Optics & Photonics News (OPN) interviewed several photonics experts about the hunt for skilled photonics talent and came to coordinator Hugo Thienpont to see how PhotonHub Europe approaches training and reskilling in photonics.

In an interview with OPN, Prof. Thienpont sheds light on why PhotonHub is set to be a game changer in photonics training and reskilling, offering a unique platform for professionals and businesses to upskill and stay ahead of the curve. As a European Commission–funded project PhotonHub aims to drive photonic innovation among companies across a wide spectrum of industry domains. In particular, the program targets Europe’s roughly 260,000 SMEs in sectors ranging from security to space and defence to food to smart cities and Industry 4.0.

“Most of those industry sectors don’t know what photonics is,” says Thienpont to OPN, “or what photonics in innovation can do for them. We listen to the challenge of the companies, and we help them with innovation that is driven by their needs. In the area of training and reskilling, PhotonHub Europe serves those diverse needs through a number of instruments."

"One is the European Photonics Innovation Academy", OPN mentions, "an online catalog that organizes and provides quick access to training offerings available across Europe. The initiative also offers a two-hour online introduction to photonics, tuned to specific industry sectors."

For companies seeking to upskill their workforces further to support photonics as part of their growth plans, PhotonHub also operates 32 “Demo Centers” and nine “Experience Centers” across Europe. The Demo Centers, as the name implies, offer one-day demonstrations of photonic technology, tuned to specific industry sectors. The Experience Centers provide hands-on training in “top-notch technology” in areas ranging from freeform optics to laser-based manufacturing, to build tangible photonics expertise the companies can take back to their manufacturing efforts.

"PhotonHub Europe will also be rolling out a “train the trainer” program", Thienpont continues in the article. "We’re going to try to train people who work at the technical high schools, or people who work in industry and have their own in-house training programs. Otherwise you are training workers one-on-one—which is good, but which will not have the massive impact we are targeting.”

Read the full article in Optics & Photonics News below.