Andy Murdock was a panel member in the online discussion ‘Geospatial skills and continuing professional development’ at the AGI’s annual GeoCom event in November 2020, which explored how the continuing professional development of geospatial professionals is necessary for a prosperous and sustainable future
Your CPD and skills needs change throughout your career – starting with the technical, then moving towards project management and team leadership, then to business development, organisation management and leadership. What I look for now from CPD is quite different to what I was looking at earlier in my career and is less technical, focussing more on business and soft skills. I also think that if you are involved in consultancy - pitching for work and managing projects and with some degree of autonomy - you will have many of the skills needed to set up and run your own company already.
The more pervasive use of geospatial technologies by non-specialists, combined with the obvious changes in technology (AI, Big Data etc) are influencing and shaping the skills landscape and this has implications for traditional geospatial roles: there simply won’t be as many GIS analyst roles in future. Most of the projects I work on for Maploom are about improving access to data and making processes easier for non-technical users and this is partly technical but also requires a really good understanding of users and their needs. These are business analysis skills.
COVID-19 has been a great opportunity for some people to develop their skills, but this has depended on personal circumstances and many are also struggling with other commitments. On-demand access to courses obviously helps more people access training to develop skills.
More widely, as an industry, we need to develop our marketing skills – to sell the benefits of what geospatial offers to a business and focus more on the benefits for companies and why they should invest in geospatial skills. That needs to form part of a wider package that demonstrates to employers the value of geospatial skills to the organisation and to ensure that there is a clear path for progression so that the investment stays with the company and doesn’t leave to get another job! So it’s not just about the individual, it’s about the organisations too.
From what I have seen from assessing CGeog applications, there is a great deal of this advocacy work being done by some very passionate individuals in organisations who are out there promoting the benefits of geospatial through their project successes and I wonder whether collectively we can do more and create more resources to help get the message across. I know AGI has done some work on this in the past. And something that Geospatial Commission is also looking at in terms of getting the message across for the value of geospatial.
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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2021) Chartered Geographers reflect: Andy Murdock CGeog (GIS) on CPD for geospatial professionals. Available at www.rgs.org/careersresources/CGeogs-reflect-Murdock. Last accessed on: <date>
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