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Maneesh Prasad

Starting as a subject (Remote Sensing/GIS) today geospatial education has evolved into an independent programme in itself. Going by the opinion shared by professors from UAE, India, Thailand and Malaysia, most of these education programmes are run by support from the respective governments, which is almost a norm for professional courses.

Prof Nathawat’s view on the need of standardisation of geospatial education is important. Further, these programmes can be, if the government and private sectors could share their views on what they would like the geospatial professional to be conversant with. This could be further taken up to structure education need for data creation, solution & technology development segments of the geospatial industry.

Along with government supported programmes, private technical education institutions too have been blipping on the radar. Most of these institutions work on self funded basis. But in India and maybe in other Asia Pacific countries, geospatial education is yet to see large scale entry of private institutions. Private organisations have made attempts on the training front, but there are not many success stories to be shared. Various models were experimented with, including those which had the service providing companies imparting training to job aspiring candidates, for a cost, on ‘live projects’. Failure of these programmes can be attributed to market acceptability or ability to move laterally with the desired salary support from the industry.

The market need of geospatial professionals varies from region to region. In the Middle East and North Asia region it would tend to be top heavy, with more technically qualified and experienced professionals in demand, particularly for the work profile which can have foreign nationals. In South Asia and some of the countries in South East Asia, where the industry is banking on low manpower cost to provide data updation/creation service, the professionals required would extend to graduates and undergraduates with some vocational training, before joining the industry are in demand, in addition to the skilled workforce being provided by technical institutions and professional institutions. A typical ‘quick and dirty’ job, in slang! where a prospective candidate gets 10-12 actual training days on popularly used GIS software and he is off for the interview, with bright chances of employability. It appears that the geospatial market for countries like India, which is banking to an extent on the data creation/updation work to be outsourced, the need of GIS higher education will continue to be overshadowed by the software training.

To mention the least, there are cycles of development where higher level of Geospatial education & research could have been triggered as a regular need. Gram++, ISRO GIS, GramChitra and later on JT Maps. These were the instances when a group of people either funded by government or private initiatives came together to develop geospatial software tools. What is important is where did those people who worked on the core modules go? They evaporated in the mainstream IT industry. Geospatial industry could not pay them, or maybe the industry did not need them. In a nutshell, the capacity building of the geospatial industry in countries like India has somewhat been slowed down by the lacklustre response of the market, which in-turn could be the result of an archaic map policy. Hopefully, the new mapping policy and the opening of 4800 topo sheets in India as a part of the NSDI initiative, marks a new dawn in geospatial domain. In this issue, GIS Development, would cross another milestone, with changed gears! Four new sections are being introduced in this issue. Few more would be done over the next few months and amongst them three to four sections would be covered each month. Some of the sections being introduced are Techwatch, Blogbuster, Publications and PictureThis. Looking forward to an interesting and complete reading material in geospatial domain for our readers .

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