“Workers need to know about cartography and geography,” Davis says. “They need to have certain computer programming skills, and scientific knowledge.”
Training often starts as early as high school, with skills emphasis at the community college level, Davis says. Interestingly, even students who hold degrees from four-year colleges are returning to community colleges for skills training—and certificates—in order to get jobs. “They come to get the technical skills,” he says. “We’re having a lot of reverse transfer phenomena.”
The center’s partners serve a diverse student population, including Del Mar College, where Davis teaches, and Southwestern College in Chula Vista, Calif., which serve mostly Hispanic students, and two in the Southeast with significant African American enrollment, Gainesville State College in Gainesville, Ga., and Edgecombe College, with campuses in Tarboro and Rocky Mount, N.C. The center also is working with various disability agencies to attract disabled veterans into the field.
“Learning to think spatially is something that society needs to do,” Davis says. “It’s something we need to encourage in our youth and K-12 education. We’re not just talking about geography, or drawing maps with crayons, but learning about spatial relationships—cause and effect. When you build too many homes along the coast, or near a fault susceptible to earthquakes, everything is spatially related.
“This needs to become as fundamental to our education system as reading, writing and arithmetic,” he adds. “I like to say, ‘geospatial technology: you’re lost without it.’”
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