ACLS-AATC Surveyors: Recruiting and Retaining the Best and Brightest
GoGeomatics Canada participated in the Recruiting and Retaining the Best and Brightest workshop at the National Surveyors Conference in Niagara, Ontario. Guy Craig (SLS, PEng, Professional Surveyors Canada Chair), facilitated the workshop and introduced the panelists for this discussion. Two panels, one representing associations and educators, and one representing business and individuals, discussed the questions of recruiting the best and brightest into the surveying profession. Each panel gave their perspective on what challenges the profession is currently facing, and future challenges regarding human resource development. On the ACLS-AATC website, the agenda describes this workshop as the “… Interactive National Forum [being] part of a larger advocacy based initiative to share best practices, identify challenges, and inform initiatives which will enable our community to recruit, support, and retain the best and the brightest to a career in surveying”.
After the panel discussion, the conference participants were asked to break into table groups to discuss a number of questions posed:
- What are the needs, now and in the foreseeable future?
- How do we address those needs?
- What are we doing now, or planning to do?
- What should we do or not do?
- What are the barriers and how should they be addressed?
- Who are the audiences?
Once the tables had completed their discussions, the table representatives shared their perspectives with the rest of the participants. A number of ideas and concerns were put forward, only some of which we will describe briefly. Surprisingly to GoGeomatics Canada, one of the most contentious issues presented was what do surveyors call themselves, and how do they describe thesmelves; land surveyors, or geomatics professionals? The issue of engaging and recruiting high school and college students was also presented. Another issue is the demographic cliff; many of the association members are over fifty years old, and there will be a large cohort of professional surveyors leaving the profession within the next ten years.
Below are some of GoGeomatics Canada thoughts on these questions.
- The debate needs to end on which label to use; surveyors, geomatics, or a variation of these. This needs to end because it is difficult for the public to understand who we are, and what we do. So pick one, stick with it, end of story.
- Moving forward, co-operation amongst the professional surveying associations is a must. Each association has had varying levels of success recruiting the best and brightest. The most effective strategies need to be shared between them.
- There are a large number of geomatics professionals in areas such as GIS, especially in central Canada, who are underemployed. A strategy for encouraging these highly skilled individuals towards a career in surveying needs to be formulated. This should be done in conjunction with the companies who are looking to recruit staff. Potential partnerships with the provincial and federal governments might be a possibility for funding for these initiatives.
- Public engagement needs to be stepped up because the profession must be showcased to the broader community. One potential channel amongst many is the Canadian Geographic magazine – the third largest publication in Canada. Engaging articles on survey-related subject matter would go a long way to increase the publics awareness of the surveying profession.
- The National Surveyors Conference 2013 would have been a great opportunity to have a public component where the wider community should have been invited to learn about surveying. Parents, children and students could learn more about the profession and career paths by speaking to a variety of surveyors. This could be done in conjunction with almost any surveying related event in Canada.
- Step up efforts to engage guidance counsellors and teachers with information regarding surveying careers and modules for teaching. We know that the ACLS-AATC is already successfully doing this, however more work is needed.
- Another possibility is to try to engage with groups such as Scouts Canada and the Girl Guides of Canada to introduce surveying concepts to children and youth through their programs.
- Encourage females to enter the profession. It should not be a national news story that there is the first female land surveyor in Manitoba.
There were many great ideas and suggestions discussed during this forum. The ones listed above are GoGeomatics Canada’s suggestions, but do overlap with many other valuable and innovative ideas discussed by participants.
Please let us know what your thoughts are by commenting below!