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EO4GEO: Sector Skills Strategy Workshop in Patras (Greece) 4th December 2018

The second EO4GEO workshop and progress meeting took place in Patras, Greece from December 4th until 6th. EO4GEO is an Erasmus+ Sector Skills Alliance gathering 26 partners from 12 countries from academia, private and public sector active in the education/training and space/geospatial sectors. EO4GEO aims to help bridging the skills gap between supply and demand of education and training in the space/geospatial sector by reinforcing the existing ecosystem and fostering the uptake and integration of space/geospatial data and services in end-user applications.

The workshop was part of the current preparation of the Space/Geospatial Sector Skills Strategy. More specifically, it was meant to assess skills shortages, gaps and mismatches between the GI and EO education and training offered by academic institutions and VET providers on the one hand, and the knowledge, skills and competencies required by the market on the other hand. Results and findings from the EO4GEO surveys on the demand for and supply of EO/GI education and training in Europe were further analyzed and discussed, while also new trends, challenges and opportunities were taken into account. Some first results and insights on skills gaps and mismatches were discussed, and additionally a group of experts on skills assessments and strategies (in the GI and EO sector as well as in other sectors) were invited to discuss the future possible paths concerning the evolution of the skills and competences. In other words, an overview of the work done so far was provided, but at the same time there was room for an extensive interactive discussion by making use of breakout sessions and panel discussions.

The first intermediate results show that there is strong need for a common language for talking about EO/GI skills and occupations and point to the relevance of developing a Body of Knowledge (BoK). Existing occupational profiles related to EO/GI should be updated and new profiles should be defined, and the terminology on relevant skills should be clarified. Throughout the surveys and additional analysis and activities, it was found that there is often a confusion between skills, knowledge and competences, which are often intermixed and not used in a consistent way. An important question during the break-out session was related to the strategic actions that should be included in the development of the future space/geospatial sector skill strategy. In addition, future skills, and (potential) shortages and mismatches were discussed. Some interesting thoughts which require a more in-depth look in the next few months (related to both the Sector Skills Strategy and the skills, shortages and mismatch analysis) are for example fostering the use of GIS in secondary school and stimulate (geo)spatial skills. Although this is not the focus of EO4GEO, among some participants there was a consensus that this could prevent certain shortages (mainly related to soft skills and basic spatial skills). Related to future skills and competences, a main point of discussion was related to the separation between up- and downstream which is becoming more blurred. In addition, also the need for a more extensive trend watch was stressed. Furthermore, it was discussed that working in project teams will become the norm and that there is an ongoing trend away from professions, towards what can be called “skill-based positions”. Related to actions to bridge gaps, it was mentioned several times that soft skills needs to be incorporated in the BoK. Bringing stakeholders (also beyond the EO/GI sector) together to develop or give input for the BoK was another aspect mentioned. These and many other thoughts and results of the workshop will not only provide further input for the assessment of skills shortages, gaps and mismatches between supply and (future) demand, but also provide input for both the GI and EO Sector Skills Strategy, which will be finalized during the first months of 2019.

@Workshop organized by U. Patras and KU Leuven
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