Empowering space data users via EO4GEO

Interview with Emanuele Barreca (DG GROW, Space data for societal challenges unit, responsible for the Copernicus skills programme)

According to the “Space Strategy for Europe”, the main objective of the European Commission is to maximize the socio-economic benefits of Copernicus. How can EO4GEO support in this sense?

The EO4GEO Sector Skills Alliance is a step ‘towards an innovative strategy for skills development and capacity building in the space geo information sector supporting Copernicus User Uptake’. The overall aim is to reduce the skills gap between the supply of and the demand for education and training in the geospatial sector by reinforcing the existing ecosystem and fostering the uptake and integration of geospatial data and services in end-user applications. This directly supports and contributes to the implementation of the European Space Strategy in two major ways: firstly, it strengthens and enlarges the Earth Observation and Geoinformatics communities via a partnership which includes the entire value chain, from the service provider to the user. As Copernicus is a user-driven programme, this collective effort to overcome skills mismatches is seen as a key element of the Blueprint. Secondly, the collaboration between the public and private sectors on the one hand (demand) as well as the education system on the other (offer) is a key enabler of the mutual recognition of professional qualifications in the sector.

With the new Multiannual Financial Framework under definition and the willingness to achieve and develop all the points under the Space Strategy for Europe, the EO4GEO partnership could develop relations, tools and strategic measures that could enhance the creation of the Knowledge Innovation Community on Space for societal benefits.

Photo credits: Lena Bell on Unsplash

There is an increase of initiatives targeting training, information, awareness raising on Copernicus. How does the Blueprint fit into this panorama, and how can EO4GEO avoid duplications?

What makes EO4GEO unique is that the project will provide the education sector involved in training space data users with a complete and coherent methodology. The fact that this methodology leverages on what is available as well as experiences of the past, and is defined together with relevant actors across the value chain should lead to an increased impact in terms of Copernicus uptake. The hope is to see more actors from the vocational training as well as in public administrations be aware of training opportunities and take them as new opportunities.

The Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills and the Copernicus Skills Programme are closely linked. How?

In 2015, the study “Space market uptake in Europe” published by the European Parliament, highlighted that the lack of specialised technical and scientific skills could prevent also private enterprises from exploiting the opportunities offered by space data. This is clearly a key barrier for the market. DG EMPL and DG GROWTH worked together in order to identify suitable pilot sectors for the Blueprint initiative. The EO sector was chosen because economic analysis of the sector and the first evaluations of Copernicus programme showed the existence of a skills gap to be bridged.

EO4GEO brings together the EO community and the GI community: how can they reinforce each other?

The EO and GI communities will certainly benefit from the knowledge exchange and the shared experience. Therefore, exploring innovative experiences and applications will be the direct outcome of the effective learning and education process. This will highlight the added value of the synergies between these communities.

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An innovative strategy for skills development and capacity building in the EO/GI field

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