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Destination Spatial: Australia and New Zealand Aim High with Education and Job Recruitment Movement for GIS and Geospatial

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Monday, October 29th 2012
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Summary:

Destination Spatial is the latest strategy to draw attention to the need for geospatial practitioners, and to guide students and job changers toward those careers. This effort, launched in Queensland, Australia, is picking up steam and now supports all of Australia and New Zealand. Executive Editor Adena Schutzberg details what makes it different from previous approaches.

The team behind the Destination Spatial movement published two press releases (1, 2) about the effort in September. A Very Spatial Podcast highlighted the movement in the regular “Web Corner” feature. What is Destination Spatial? It’s the latest strategy to draw attention to the need for geospatial practitioners, and guide students and job changers toward those careers.

September’s press releases highlighted the movement’s website. While it has features familiar to other related websites, a few points are worth noting. First, while the press release suggests the website is “new,” it’s not. Said Jack de Lange, COO at Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA), one of the groups behind Destination Spatial, “The site was initially launched in 2010 and the recent one is really a re-launch but you wouldn’t recognise them as the same site really.” That’s a key idea. Too many efforts launch a site only to let it languish.

Second, the website content was not determined solely by those in the field. The site, per the launch press release, “is the result of extensive research to find out what information students and parents need and how to present it in a way that encourages them to investigate further.” The team was able to tap communications consultants to learn how to speak to this diverse target audience.

The updated website thus includes the ability to “meet” real people across the disciplines of the industry, explore projects from all over the world staffed by Australia- and New Zealand-trained individuals, find courses in the region and find opportunities to get hands-on experience. Those topics are the four main tabs of the website: meet people, explore study options, check out projects, grab opportunities. I like the idea that the developers went straight to their target audience to determine the appropriate content; it’s akin to having an advisory board for your company or degree program.

Third, the site presents a united front. The Destination Spatial initiative began in 2008, aimed at promoting surveying and spatial sciences to students, parents and teachers. The original 2010 website, managed by Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI) and SIBA, was created by the Queensland arms of those organizations as the starting point. The state of Victoria took an active role in identifying and organizing a wide range of stakeholders and soon, the vision and branding grew to cover all of Australia and New Zealand. This is impressive. Here in the United States we are still working to create a united front to address issues, educational and otherwise, related to these professions.

Finally, the efforts of those behind the Destination Spatial movement were recognized with the SIBA Chairman’s Award at the Queensland Spatial Excellence Awards. The award recognizes “contribution to the spatial industries.” What were Destination Spatial’s contributions? de Lange offers a short list:

  • Established and mobilized itself as a broad based group
  • Interpreted the research work done in the last couple of years
  • Managed a significant communications consultancy
  • Redeveloped the website
  • Garnered support in other states and New Zealand
  • Tested the concepts with career visits to schools and universities
  • Started to get industry and schools involved

The rest of the world should be watching what our peers in Australia and New Zealand are doing. Who knows, perhaps Destination Spatial could go global?


 


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