I recently had a chance to sit down with Bob Samborski, Executive President of GITA, regarding the recent award of a $ 700,000 Grant from the US Department of Labor to GITA. Recall, as part of President Bush’s High Growth Job Training Initiative, such initiatives and grants will be undertaken as part of an effort to help prepare a skilled workforce to take advantage of opportunities in high-growth, high-demand sectors.
Samborski seemed genuinely humbled that GITA had won the award and is quick to point out that this project can not and will not be conducted by GITA alone. Look for the AAG (www.aag.org) to play a very important role in the project over the next year as will the Wharton School of Business.
Recall… the purpose of the grant is to conduct a detailed study that will serve to identify the needs, priorities, and challenges to be faced in building a skilled workforce of Geospatial Technology professionals. In September 2004, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced a series of investments totaling nearly $6.4 million to address the workforce needs of the geospatial technology industry.
Samborksi shared with me an outline of GITA’s approach for conducting the study which will have 5 key components/steps:
1. Getting a grip on understanding geospatial and defining it
2. Communication and public outreach – this approach will serve to identify what kinds of skills are needed for professionals. A number of partners will be used to help secure feedback and communication.
3. Development of a web-based portal to access curricula information. This will also serve to help explain and communicate to academia what they need to be teaching to better prepare students for careers in geospatial technologies.
4. Use the portal as a live test site. This will involve a live pilot project with a goal of replicating the effort based on the outcome.
5. Making the project results sustainable.
Given the high profile this study will likely command, everyone in industry stands to benefit from this project. Be sure to keep an eye open for polls, surveys, reports etc… that pop up as part of this effort and be sure to take the time to participate in any way you can. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of the study and anticipate good things down the road for GIS and Geospatial technologies… stay tuned.
Of note, a number of groups have received funding for special geospatial training initiatives over the past year. Some of the recipients include STIA (http://www.spatialtech.org/) see PR Here; Kidzonline (see PR here), a nonprofit educational organization whose mission, vision and values are dedicated to preparing K-12 students and teachers to live and work in the information age (http://www.kidzonline.org); Institute for Geographic Information Systems Studies (IGISS) received an award for a Geospatial Business Hub Project, and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) received a $1.5 million grant to conduct a Geospatial Technology Apprenticeship Project (GTAP). The project focus was to develop state-of-the art training models and materials to engage the potential geospatial workforce, implement innovative on-the-job and classroom training delivery methodologies, and develop detailed exploration and mapping of career ladders and lattices in the geospatial industry. If you’re interested in more information about the president’s High Growth Job Training Initiative see http://www.doleta.gov/BRG/JobTrainInitiative/
PS: If you need information on the current state of GIS and geospatial technologies then be sure to check out the recently published “Geospatial Technology Report” from GITA. The report, published in July 2005, contains detailed information on the completeness, complexity, and direction of geographic information system (GIS) projects being implemented at 294 infrastructure-based organizations. See http://www.gita.org/resources/geo_report/georeport.html – A reminder, in the future, if you take part in the report surveys you will be entitled to a free copy of the report.