She Maps, a national education provider, says it is spearheading a solution to the surveying and spatial workforce skills shortage in Australia — a contributing factor to the current construction industry crisis.
Founded by Paul Mead and Dr Karen Joyce in 2017, She Maps works with schools, teachers and parents to promote drone and geospatial skills development and 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.
“The aim of our programs is to capture the hearts and minds of students by demonstrating the power of drones and potential career pathways.”
As part of the solution, She Maps has unveiled its Partnering for Purpose Model, a multi-pronged approach that aims to inspire a new generation 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 the geospatial industry.
It has been reported by the Surveyors Board Queensland that Queensland alone is set to lose 30% of its cadastral surveyors over the next five years, which will directly impact the delivery of critical infrastructure and construction projects over the coming decade.
“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 Connection Point Consulting Director and the report’s author, Danika Bakalich.
“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 within the secondary education sector.
“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,” said Mead.
“At She Maps, we are passionate about the geospatial industry, but 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 with 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,” said Mead.
“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,” he added.
The Connection Zone involves surveying days, career fairs, school visits, and work experience weeks.
A study released in 2016 found that 40% of Australian teachers who teach geography have no formal training in the subject.
“We need to be better at supporting the teachers that can have an impact on these students earlier,” said Mead.
“As with raising a child, it takes a village,” said Mr Mead. “To create the next generation of geospatial professionals, it takes us all.”
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