Australia is now full thrusters ahead into a new era of space activity.
While Australia has a history in space beginning from the close of World War II and involving a range of operations and collaborations over the years, the country has only recently (2018) established its own government space agency. Development of the Australian Space Agency has coincided with a boom in Australia’s civil space sector, which is strongly supported by government and private investment, ingenuity and collaboration, drive and vision.
The Australian space sector is growing. This brings its own set of challenges. A report developed by SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre, the Australian Space Industry Skills Gap Analysis, has discerned present and anticipated skills shortages across the majority of space-industry-specific skills. With primes and multinationals—names like Microsoft, Deloitte, and Optus—expanding into the sector; with multiple small to medium companies; and with numerous startups rising to new space opportunities, the competition to acquire experienced space personnel will only increase. So, where do space companies find the right people to take their operations to the next level?
One solution is to train existing staff or transition new staff from adjacent industries. Because new technologies in the space sector have utility across many adjacent industries—mining, agriculture, defence, medicine, communications, tourism, to name a few—a large range of people for transitions into the space workforce are potentially available. Even so, a gap in space-specific skills and knowledge remains. Often, how things operate on Earth are not how they operate in space. Therefore, those entering from adjacent industries will most likely require space-specific training and time to develop experience in their new role.
Another approach is to train the future generation of the workforce at the tertiary level in space-relevant courses, while inspiring and preparing those at the secondary level for careers in space. Space education within Australian universities is currently increasing. Yet education takes time—one might argue, a lifetime—and the broad and theoretical nature of academic courses (at least at the undergraduate level) may not always prepare graduates for the specific kinds of practical work needed within the industry. Further on-the-job training is likely to be required.
For space companies looking for staff who can not only ‘hit the ground running,’ but add immediate value to their operations, the solution may be hiring people who already have many years of experience in the space industry. This is something Careers in Space can assist with.
Yet in a growing industry hungry for experienced talent, the best people are likely to become increasingly unavailable or available only for a higher price. This inevitably leads to a culture of head-hunting. The problem with this approach is that it breeds disloyalty within a company, along with rivalry and salary inflation. For Australia’s young and enthusiastic space sector to succeed, we need a collaborative culture and coordinated effort.
A better solution may be found in contractors. The advantage in a temporary workforce is that specific skills can be hand-picked for the duration of the project or task. The benefits of tailored expertise and wide-ranging experience tops the cost of hiring a contractor workforce designed specifically for a project. This results in experienced space contractors who can anticipate and solve problems more effectively and efficiently because of their prior experience and are therefore more likely to save the company time and resources in the long run. Being project-focused, they also get on with the job.
This approach also benefits the industry at large. With a highly skilled ‘floating’ workforce, skills shortages are filled rapidly, the industry is cross-pollinated with specialised knowledge, and high-level skills are conveyed to the junior and graduate employee workforce.
If you’re interested in finding experienced contractors with backgrounds working in the national or international space industry, C4 Space can help you find the right personnel. We have access to an extensive database of space expertise and overseas suppliers who can source people with previous experience in major aerospace companies. Tell us your specific role and project needs, and in consultation with you, we will identify, assess, vet, and manage the right personnel for the job. Our work is to help you deliver on your project success.
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For more about C4 Space, visit www.c4space.com.au.
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