Last week in Part 2, we examined in more detail how the space industry is currently using OJT and mentorship as a means of training its workforce… and why it is not working. We also discussed how other industries regularly invest in their staffs to recruit, retain and upskill the workforce.
Space Storm Rising: Part 3
By Joseph Horvath and Christopher Allen
The Cost of Entry
Building a team capable of creating effective training programs requires more than just subject-matter expertise. In truth, content is one of the least important components in designing learning experiences. Organizations don’t care what people know, they care what people do. Designing for doing requires fully understanding the contextual challenges, simulating performances, and showing in-depth the consequences of actions in many different scenarios. When adding subject-matter experience back into the equation, a great learning and development department includes a whole host of professional talent.
On average it takes well over 500 hours to create an effective 1-hour long learning experiences. Additionally, 500 hours doesn’t consider project management time to coordinate with stakeholders, review progress, test and refine designs with prospective students. In, short custom learning development isn’t a one-person job, it’s expensive. As an industry, space needs true professional standards for skill development and application. Utilizing a common curriculum, industry professionals will gain a common performance language.
Out Of The Storm
The good news is that this problem can be tackled. With a relatively small investment from companies, they can transform their ability to recruit, retain and upskill their staffs. The benefits of this are multifaceted, including an increase in performance, productivity, communication, creativity and ultimately business or project outcomes.
Old methods of training and education, focused on a classroom type lecture experience or digital slide presentation with question and answer, will not solve the problem and do not scale well. By utilizing modern digital education, companies and learners benefit from not only learning new topics and skills but practicing them in a safe yet challenging environment. This leads to long-term knowledge retention and positive behavior change. Don’t stop the OJT and mentorship, augment it with outsourced quality learning employees can accomplish at a fraction of the cost to develop and implement internally.
K-16 STEM Education – According to a Mand Labs study, about 74 percent of college STEM graduates do not enter STEM careers. One area industry can do earlier in developing growth of the overall workforce is to support K-16 STEM. The employees of tomorrow are learning today, and exposing them to the exciting STEM topics, like Space, in interesting ways lets them know there is a place for them as they develop. This is especially critical to underserved communities that see a lack of representation in STEM careers. Once those students are graduating college or trade school, space companies must have a professional develop program in place to provide the foundational space background. This levels the playing field with new joins, allowing them to best communicate and understand how they fit into the big picture as they grow.
Talent Transfer From Other Industries – Another source of the future workforce is to draw from other industries or professional communities. As noted early, space companies need a lot more than just engineers and scientists, and everyone working for the company should know enough basics about space to be able to properly communicate and interact with teammates, leaders, and stakeholders. As an example, it is easier to take a seasoned, capable salesperson and teach them about space, than it is to take an astronautical engineer and teach them to sell.
Continued Professional Development – Learning never ends, especially in a technically advanced, fast paced, and growing industry. It is important for companies to provide career-long learning opportunities across the staff. This not only affects job performance, but also individual growth and retention. Continuing to expand the employee knowledgebase also breeds creativity and opportunity as the space environment and competitive market evolves. A small investment goes a long way in creating lasting and dedicated employees.
The space industry cannot afford to ignore this issue. With the large amount of public and private capital being expended in growing the space economy, there is no way to establish the supporting workforce without a paradigm shift within corporate space training and professional development. There is a way out of the storm, and it requires investment by organizations to ensure they can inspire, recruit, and retain the talent necessary to remain competitive and meet the growing demand.