In the last few years, the UK has made a point of becoming one of the most attractive countries for the space sector. Its intention is to build upon the solid foundations of its production and design industries to move towards launches and more. Some of its ambitious goals include 100,000 jobs in space, and a 10% global market share, by 2030.
While this is achievable in theory, the recent dramatic push towards a larger space industry has highlighted a skills gap between what’s currently available and what’s needed.
To understand the potential solutions, let’s look at the current skills gaps and what this means for the UK’s space industry.
It should come as no surprise that highly skilled professionals are needed to make breakthroughs in space exploration, satellite technology, and more. The space industry has undergone major changes in the last few years thanks to the development of reusable rockets and the push to revisit the Moon and land on Mars.
But the state of the UK’s education and recruitment efforts are significant barriers affecting our ability to keep up. According to the UK Space Agency’s Space Sector Skills Survey 2020, 86% of respondents claimed to have gaps in their engineering and scientific functions, and 43% had skills gaps in their managerial roles.
There are arguably too many specific skills to discuss here, but some of the most significant examples include the following:
Along with specific hard skills, the Space Skills Alliance found that many space companies look for communication and transferrable skills in their hires. These can include anything from “hard” skills such as data analysis and problem-solving to “softer” skills like communication and writing competency.
The bottom line is that, currently, many recent graduates come out of university with qualifications that address some – but not all – areas of space-focused job requirements. It’s unreasonable to think of this educational mismatch as a problem unique to the space industry. Far from it, in fact, as many STEM fields have a lack of digital skills.
Aside from digital skills, there’s also the common issue of a delay in educational courses matching up with industry demand. After all, there’s little need to offer a specific space engineering course if there are few jobs available for graduates. While this is a generalisation, it’s a contributing factor that should ease as more investment is poured into the UK’s space industry.
According to the Space Skills Alliance, the current skills gap means it’s unlikely the UK will have 30,000 space jobs by 2030. This basically summarises the results of any skills gap: a lack of skills means a lack of applicants and, in turn, a lack of growth.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. The Space Skills Alliance exists to address this exact problem, and it’s doing good work highlighting issues related to skills and applicant bias. Hopefully, despite a slight delay, the UK should be able to see its 10% market share in the not-too-distant future.
Make sure you do your part, though. If you’re interested in the space sector, look to engage with educational opportunities and assess your transferrable skills; they’re in high demand with space-focused companies.
The Space Skills Alliance is an invaluable resource for seeing how you could help in the space industry. And, of course, reach out to us at KDC Resource for more information on available roles and help to make your mark on the UK’s space industry.