Driving Geospatial Data skills

techUK's Policy Manager for Skills, Talent & Diversity, Nimmi Patel, writes about how we need to bridge the skills gap for techUK’s #GeospatialFuture campaign week.

Over 10% of the British economy is reportedly reliant on the use of geographic data. The varied uses of geospatial data means that the need for such skills will only grow in demand.  To ensure we are using geospatial data to its full potential, techUK has seen how traditional GIS skills will need to be complemented with computational and statistical analysis skills, and in many cases a move towards data science.

With 82% of job vacancies now requiring digital skills, providing relevant digital skills upskilling can be a critical step in helping people to build up the skills for jobs, not only for tech specialist jobs but also for the majority of roles across all sectors of the economy. There is an opportunity for the UK to harness geospatial data skills for economic growth as the technology develops, but geospatial data skills will undoubtedly be affected by the rapid digitisation of industries. How we combat these issues is central in techUK’s Geospatial work and, as we have seen this campaign week, within the Geospatial Commission.

There is a growing mismatch in the supply and demand of digital skills in the UK, which will be accentuated by the economic fallout of the pandemic. To continue to fill the tech and tech-enabled jobs that will prove key for our economic recovery, the UK needs a flexible range of education options that support different parts of the population with differing skill levels. We can look to opening access to geospatial skills as part of a greater push towards digital skills of the future by:

  • Change the narrative and framing around digital skills. techUK wants to do more to highlight that data skills are a facilitator for people to do jobs rather than for jobs themselves. Digital runs throughout every part of an organisation and therefore every employee. By demystifying what digital skills are and focus on their analytical nature, we can further encourage its uptake with a strong narrative. As tech becomes an integral part of work in sectors such as health, climate & sustainability, and financial services, there is an imperative to foster cross-pollination between tech and other areas in our approach to digital skills to ensure people have the knowledge to drive forward progress and help realise the full potential of technology.
  • Integrate into school curriculum: There is an opportunity to introduce and integrate geospatial and digital skills within the school curriculum in a way that has tech industry support. This would signal to young people that these skills are not only important for tech professional careers but increasingly important for many jobs in many industries.
  • Empower people with digital skills to transition to high-growth tech jobs. It is vital that we have the skills needed to seize on this opportunity and meet the speed and scale of innovations and new waves of automation. As we live through another national lockdown, more than 1.6 million people are currently out of work in the UK, and the unemployment rate has hit a three-year high at 4.8%. Despite this worrying situation, the tech sector continues to be strong. techUK surveyed people’s attitudes towards tech during lockdown. Respondents to the polling overwhelmingly agreed with over 80% stating that digital skills will become more important over the next 12 months with 27% ‘strongly agreeing’ with this. More importantly, the recognition of the importance of digital skills appears to translate across to wanting to do something about it. In the surveys, 58% of respondents reported being interested in gaining more digital skills in the next 12 months. We need to build on people’s motivations to learn and pivot them to digital careers.
  • Work together to expand short modular digital skills courses. In particular those accredited by industry and employers to open up more accessible and affordable pathways for people looking to retrain for digital roles. More modular, flexible learning can offer easier avenues for people transitioning between sectors or looking to add to their geospatial skills with further digital elements.

A combination of these actions will ensure we widen the understanding of geospatial as a cross-sector skill to help sustain a skilled workforce.

You can read more insights from techUK's #GeospatialFuture campaign here!

Nimmi Patel

Nimmi Patel

Policy Manager, Skills, Talent and Diversity, techUK

Nimmi Patel is the Policy Manager for Skills, Talent and Diversity at techUK.

She works on all things skills policy, focusing on upskilling and retrain. She is committed to embedding diversity in the UK tech pipeline from classroom to boardroom working with partners such as the Tech Talent Charter and the WISE Campaign. Nimmi also leads techUK’s immigration work, collaborating with techUK members and stakeholders to create an environment that attracts the best talent to the UK.

Prior to joining the team, she worked for the UK Labour Party and New Zealand Labour Party and holds a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Manchester and is currently studying MA Strategic Communications at King’s College London.

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Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Programme Manager, Technology and Innovation, techUK

Laura is techUK’s Programme Manager for Technology and Innovation.

She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally in London, Singapore and across the United States as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.

Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.

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Zoe Brockbank

Programme Assistant, Policy, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Zoe is a Programme Assistant, supporting techUK's work across Policy, Technology and Innovation.

The team makes the tech case to government and policymakers in Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels and across the UK on the most pressing issues affecting this sector and supports the Technology and Innovation team in the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Zoe worked as a Business Development and Membership Coordinator at London First and prior to that Zoe worked in Partnerships at a number of Forex and CFD brokerage firms including Think Markets, ETX Capital and Central Markets.

Zoe has a degree (BA Hons) from the University of Westminster and in her spare time, Zoe enjoys travelling, painting, keeping fit and socialising with friends.

[email protected]
020 7331 2174

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