09 May Space & spatial sector workforce – STEM
Australia’s past educational space and spatial outcomes have been strong. Its industries, however have not been large enough to fully utilise those skills and consequently Australia has experienced a ‘brain-drain’ in this area. The current global disruption of the space and spatial industries has resulted in new skill requirements for these industries. Concurrently, in recent years, there has been a dramatic reduction in student interest in STEM academic and training programs. This is likely to result in significant workforce skill gaps in the space and spatial industries and is now the case in mid-experience level (5+ years) resources with space experience particularly for Defence projects requiring security clearances.
OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH
There is a significant opportunity for the space and spatial industries to work together with Australia’s strong educational and vocational training systems to develop long-term and sustainable growth in space and spatial educational and training outcomes to build and further enhance Australia’s space and spatial industry workforce. In doing so, there is a need to adopt a two-pronged approach to building the STEM education pipeline. Firstly, further grow the interest and natural connection of young people with space, by informing them of the importance of space to the Australian economy and their daily lives and the growing opportunities that exist for them, to future proof their careers. Secondly, they should work together with the education systems to identify the space and spatial skills requirements of the future and thus develop relevant academic and training programs to ensure that graduates find employment in Australia.
The opportunities for growth in this critical area can be realised through the following actions:
1. Identify existing STEM education programs and work to direct and amplify the space and spatial elements of these programs through the development of K-12 student and teacher resources;
2. Review and extend the current skills gap analysis project undertaken by the Australian Space Agency and SmartSatCRC to ensure that it identifies both space and spatial skills that are not currently adequately meeting industry needs; and
3. The space and spatial industries should work together with the education and training sectors to co-design curriculum as well as Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programs that will be relevant to future industry workforce requirements.
4. Higher education and vocational training providers should work with the space and spatial industries to develop a framework for space industry certification programs and opportunities for micro credentialing to increase pathways into space and spatial careers and thus accelerate workforce development.