Solving skills shortages from the classroom
An organisation working with schools to promote drone and geospatial skills development believes it could help solve the construction skills shortage in Australia.
According to Surveyors Board Queensland, Queensland will lose up to 30% of its cadastral surveyors over the next five years, which will in turn directly impact the delivery of critical infrastructure and construction projects over the next decade.
Founded by husband-and-wife team Paul Mead and Dr Karen Joyce in 2017, She Maps works nationally with schools, teachers and parents to promote career awareness programs.
“There is a looming crisis in the construction industry, but She Maps is already ahead of the curve by running our programs in primary and secondary schools for several years,” said Mead, She Maps Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder.
“The aim of our programs is to capture the hearts and minds of students by demonstrating the power of drones and potential career pathways.”
She Maps has unveiled its Partnering for Purpose Model, a multipronged approach with the intention of inspiring future generations of surveying and geospatial experts.
The model is in line with a recent report published by The Surveyors’ Trust, which highlights the need for urgent action due to the current and emerging shortage of skills across multiple workforces but specifically the geospatial industry (including surveying and spatial).
“Workforce shortages for surveying and spatial-related occupations have been looming for over a decade, and unless action is taken by the industry, the growing shortfall will continue unabated,” said Danika Bakalich, Connection Point Consulting Director and report author.
“It is plausible that had a coordinated, structured plan been implemented at the time of the earlier workforce analysis, the current situation may have been avoided.”
To encourage sustainable supply to meet demand, it has been recognised that there needs to be more promotion of the industry, particularly in secondary education.
“Career ambitions have been primarily shaped by family, friends and the media, and they often have very clear ideas about ‘what they want to be’ when they get older,” Mead said.
“Career options in the geospatial industry are invisible to the large majority of students.”
She Maps has been partnering with The Surveyors’ Trust since 2019 building the Partnering for Purpose Model between schools and the geospatial industry in Queensland.
“Our new Partnering for Purpose Model has three zones of partnership that we need to build in order to have a strong and sustainable model for engagement from early primary school through to entry into the industry,” Mead said.
“Ensuring diverse role models from the geospatial industry are engaged in schools from an early age is a critical part of supporting students’ confidence in trying new things, and we call this the Confidence Zone. Supporting teacher ability is essential, and we call this the Capability Zone.
“A study in Australia in 2016 found that 40% of geography teachers have no formal training in geography. We need to be better at supporting the teachers that can have an impact on these students earlier.”
The Connection Zone brings the entire model together — surveying days, career fairs, industry to school visits and work experience weeks are all activities that fit in this zone.
The NSW Digital Skills and Workforce Compact was recently launched by the NSW Government.
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