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Preparing students for employment in GIS Krystyna Brown University of the West of England, Bristol Department of Geography and Environmental Management.

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Presentation on theme: "Preparing students for employment in GIS Krystyna Brown University of the West of England, Bristol Department of Geography and Environmental Management."— Presentation transcript:

1 Preparing students for employment in GIS Krystyna Brown University of the West of England, Bristol Department of Geography and Environmental Management GEES Subject Centre Summer Residential Conference 2 – 3 July 2008, George Hotel, Edinburgh

2 2 Defining GIS With GIS it is possible to map, model, query, and analyse large quantities of data all held together within a single database. Foote K. and Lynch M., (2000) The Geographer's Craft Project, Department of Geography, The University of Colorado at Boulder.

3 3 My interests in GIS and employability Jobs and GIS Questionnaire to former students 21% had found a job - some element of Geographic Information. What had enhanced their chances?

4 4 Definitions GIS - tool box - Set of tools for storing, retrieving, transforming and displaying spatial and attribute data. GIS - information system - organising and working with spatial and non-spatial data. GIS is a simplification (model) of the real world. GIS in decision-making - Spatial and non-spatial data combined in a GIS to assist in decision-making. GIScience – seeking spatial patterns of geographical phenomena – spatial intelligence (Sui, 1995)

5 5 Integrating technology GIS - an integrating technology -draws upon and extends techniques that geographers have traditionally used to analyse natural and social systems Foote K.E and Lynch M. (2000) The Geographer's Craft Project, Department of Geography, The University of Colorado at Boulder.

6 6 GIS draws from cartography, - science (and art) of map-making remote sensing - Earth observation from space geodesy - accurate measurement of the Earth surveying - accurate measurement of features on the Earth Global Positioning System photogrammetry - measurement from photographs and images image processing - analysis of image data printing technology computer science – software and hardware database management spatial statistics – AND willingness to venture into the unknown adapted from The NCGIA Core Curriculum in GIScience

7 7 The Geography jigsaw Joining the geography jigsaw ( GIS Professional June 2008, issue 22). GIS MOM SEMANTIC INTEROPERABILITY – Pacific islanders (Harvey, 2005)

8 8 Achieving world class skills Leitch Review of Skills (2006) - committed to achieving by World class high skills – widening the drive to improve the UKs high skills to encompass the whole working-age population, including 18 – 30 year olds These ambitions will not deliver economic benefits unless they are based on economically valuable skills that are effectively used in the workplace (my italics) The Reviews conclusion that skills are now the key driver to achieving economic success and social justice in the global economy.

9 9 Employability and GIS Employability a set of achievements – skills, understanding and personal attributes – that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy. Yorke (2004) Many factors which relate to ability to gain employment.

10 10 Aspects which need improvement GEES Graduate Employability Survey - studied graduates from three institutions who graduated in 2000, 2001 and aspects that were least satisfactorily developed were : Professional work experience (88.3%) Business awareness (75.6%) Entrepreneurship (66.7% Career planning (51.5%) GIS (33.3%) Gedye and Chalkley (2006)

11 11 Linking GIS to the intellectual core of Geography Teach about GIS Technical issues (data acquisition, representation, analysis and visualisation) Teach with GIS GIS applied to geographical problem solving (Sui, 1995)

12 12 GIS in our degree programmes Skills spine which is application underpinned by fundamentals – directly linked to GIS Level 1 – Geographical investigation (cartography, digital mapping, airphoto interpretation, Digimap database, introduction to GIS software, statistics, field trip Level 2 – GIS skills - preparation for level 3 dissertation. – Elective option – GIS, surveying and mapping (½ module). Level 3 – GIS and Remote Sensing Applications (full module)

13 13 Supporting team Team work: Liaison with IT Manager GIS and Computing Technical Staff 4 computer rooms 24 hour access Timed computer sessions Working with the student computer network

14 14 How did former students get GI jobs? Could point to modules with GIS Could provide proof of their level 3 - GIS team project Dissertations Were aware of applications Had transferable skills (from questionnaires to former students – 2004, 2007)

15 15 Employers What factors enhanced employability for these jobs? (extracted from semi-structured interviews with employers). Digital mapping Spatial awareness GIS analytical skills Data management skills work experience - almost a prerequisite for all but basic entry jobs.

16 16 Work placements Interest in work placements? Opportunities, but not able to interest many in a one- year placement. Need to raise awareness among level 2 students. May be more takers in summer 3 month placements. Other departments have 1 – 2 week placements

17 17 Examples of applications Geographic information (GI) is at the heart of every organisation. Customer addresses Property assets Operational areas Administrative boundaries Road and delivery or access routes Crime mapping. Adapted from F_JOBSART_ F_JOBSART_302552

18 18 Job titles CartographerGIS Technician Planning TechnicianEnvironmental Planning Assistant Graduate Environmental EngineerTeam member - location of small rural businesses Environmental Health TechnicianEnvironment officer Transport and GIS officerTeam member – Flood incident management team Environmental advisorTrainee land surveyor Graduate placement – County Borough Council Crime mapping team Countryside officerSales Recruitment Consultant Planning inspectorate teamContaminated land database Job titles from the questionnaire sent to former students and 2007 Not a GIS job?

19 19 Not a GIS job CartographerGIS Technician Planning TechnicianEnvironmental Planning Assistant Graduate Environmental EngineerTeam member - location of small rural businesses Environmental Health TechnicianEnvironment officer Transport and GIS officerTeam member – Flood incident management team Environmental advisorTrainee land surveyor Graduate placement – County Borough Council Crime mapping team Countryside officerSales Recruitment Consultant Planning inspectorate teamContaminated land database

20 20 Geography degrees Geographers - specialists at being generalists - not vocational degrees But since the increase in fees - more queries about what jobs are available to those with a geography degree.

21 21 Recruitment Agency 16, 000 GIS jobs on the database Candidate profile 1.Degree, Masters, PhD, PRINCE 2 etc 2.GIS Skills 3.Programming languages 4.Web technologies 5.Databases

22 22 GIS software ? ArcGIS Jack Dangermond ArcInfo ArcPad AutoCAD Bentley Cadcorp ER Mapper Geomedia Mapinfo 3D NLPG SmallWorld From a choice of 20

23 23 Transferable skills WHAT EMPLOYERS VALUE IN NEW GRADUATES Working under pressure Oral communication skills Accuracy Attention to detail Working in a team Time management Adaptability Initiative Working independently Taking responsibility and decisions Planning, coordinating and organising (Brennan et al. (2001) Top 4?

24 24 Top 4 Working in a team Oral communication skills Accuracy Time management

25 25 Dynamic field It is a changing dynamic and developing field - you have to build skills and knowledge throughout your career. Job descriptions change

26 26 Chartered Geographer The Association for Geographic Information has joined with the Royal Geographical Society with IBG to introduce the professional status of Chartered Geographer (GIS) for suitably qualified individuals. suited to those working in the GI Science field, indicating their competence and experience in interpreting geographical information and in geographical analysis, based on a wide understanding of using geographical processes. PSART_57/_page.xsl/73

27 27 Conclusions and Recommendations Preparing for a job in GIS? Fundamentals – first principles Get the training – in your particular field of geography Get work experience Know your market Get transferable skills Recognise that updating skills and understanding is essential – this is a developing dynamic field.

28 28 Conclusions and Recommendations Preparing for a job in GIS? Fundamentals – first principles Get the training – in your particular field of geography Get work experience Know your market Get transferable skills Recognise that updating skills and understanding is essential – this is a developing dynamic field.

29 29 Acknowledgements Many thanks to my colleagues, support staff, employers who agreed to to be interviewed and especially Michael Horswell Neil Porritt Paul Satchell Justin Brown Suresh Shah

30 30 References Brennan, J., Johnston, B., Little, B., Shah, T. and Woodley, A. (2001) The Employment of UK Graduates: Comparisons with Europe and Japan. London: The Higher Education Funding Council for England. Foote Kenneth E. and Lynch Margaret, (2000) The Geographer's Craft Project, Department of Geography, The University of Colorado at Boulder. Gedye, Sharon and Chalkley, Brian (2006) Employability within Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. GEES Sui, D (1995) A pedagogic framework to link GIS to the intellectual core of geography. Journal of Geography vol. 94 pt6, pp578 – 591. Yorke, M. (2004) Learning and employability, Book 1. LTSN Support Network, ESECT Publication.


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