Department of Labor (DOL) is one of the chief government branches tasked with providing resources to the unemployed to help them find training and work. Today, with the addition of its 16th competency model designed to help people discern hirable job skills in various job markets, the DOL has extended a helping hand to a popular emerging tech field: geospatial technology.Unemployment numbers across the U.S. may slowly be dropping, but there is still much to be done to help our economy recover from one of the worst downturns in decades. The
Employment and Training Administration (ETA) works with educators and industry luminaries to create models that identify the required skills necessary to find work in important industries using a structure closely resembling the food pyramid. With this latest model - built in collaboration with the GeoTech Center - those interested in pursuing a career in geospatial technology will now have a clear path of abilities, curricula and certifications that are highlight the best path to successfully finding work.The DOL's
"The model will serve as a resource for career guidance, curriculum development and evaluation, career pathway development, recruitment and hiring, continuing professional development, certification and assessment development, apprenticeship program development and outreach efforts to promote geospatial technology careers," the DOL said in a press release Thursday.
What This Means for the Geospatial Community
The creation of a DOL competency model affirms that the U.S. government now considers geospatial technology to be an emerging industry that is important to the economic success of the nation. The attention and recognition of the industry certainly shines a positive light to fans of geographic information systems (GIS), but what does having a competency model actually mean? What will it change?
First of all, the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) announced today that it would be reviewing the methods by which individuals are granted certification. Previously the GISCI required applicants to send in a portfolio to attain certification, but says that with the new DOL models, competency-based certification methods, which could include a required written examination "for some or all applicants." These changes, however, are as many as four years away, says the GISCI.
Secondly, this could mean the government may decide to actively fund elementary and secondary geography education programs. As Directions Magazine editor Joe Francica pointed out today, the Department of Education's "No Child Left Behind" initiative has to date managed to "leave behind" geography students - a seemingly strange disconnect from the DOL, he says.
Association of American Geographers (AAG) president Doug Richardson says his organization is concerned that "geography is the only core academic subject identified within the law that does not receive a specific funding allocation for implementing programs to further the teaching of geography at the K-12 level." Perhaps the new attention being paid to GIS through these competency models will help to change this trend.
Photo by Flickr user stevecadman.