Space Foundation, a 501(c)(3) global space advocate for 37 years, has launched their Center for Innovation and Education to create and deliver inclusive, innovative and sustainable workforce development and economic opportunity programs for the rapidly growing $415 billion global space economy.
Space, once considered the final frontier and only accessible to a select few, is now home to the most dynamic and innovative economy on the planet. Today, every community, infrastructure and aspect of modern life is acutely dependent on or indirectly affected by space-related technologies. These innovations span all industries, including telecommunications, health and medicine, public safety, agriculture, and consumer goods — impacting societies and regions across the globe.
Space technology also plays an essential role in the global economy. With more than 80 nations operating in the space economy, the market is estimated to grow to $1-3 trillion within the next 20 years. No longer dependent on government agencies or highly skilled scientists and engineers, space innovation now thrives through the collaborative work of public and private companies, academia, startups and entrepreneurs. Ongoing space developments will be key to solving the most pressing issues of our time and ensuring a healthy, sustainable future.
No Better Time to Be a Part of the Space Economy
While opportunity abounds, the space industry faces a workforce shortage, skills deficit, and space technology innovation gap. Without manpower — laborers to entrepreneurs to STEM experts — and continual career upskilling to enable the commercialization of space technology innovations, the full potential of the space economy will not be realized. Statistics and analysis from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the American Action Forum all forecast significant shortages in workers and needed skills.
With pandemic-driven unemployment reaching millions and growing, there now exists a viable pipeline of workers who represent all demographics and skill sets who could fill these gaps. A unique opportunity exists to raise awareness, share knowledge and provide training to prepare workers for space-related jobs, particularly as many must now spend time at home.
Similarly, millions of students are home from school. This presents a window of opportunity to inspire future space workers and instill a culture of lifelong learning. Multi-modal and blended learning platforms can serve as effective training mechanisms, starting with students and spanning an individual’s entire career.
A Workforce Development Roadmap to the Space Economy
As a global steward and convener of the world’s space community, Space Foundation unites and facilitates collaboration across the entire spectrum of stakeholders from the global space community — business, government, education and local communities. Its Center for Innovation and Education brings these constituencies together in partnership, sponsorship, fundraising and grants to serve the entire life cycle of the workforce — students, young leaders, entrepreneurs and professionals.
The Center for Innovation and Education operates according to its Workforce Development Roadmap, which lays out initiatives for building the professional workforce of today as well as the next-generation workforce of tomorrow. It follows five core disciplines designed to combat the obstacles standing in the way of building a qualified space workforce:
- Awareness of space impact and the economic opportunity
- Access to jobs, careers and business ventures for all people
- Training for lifelong learning of sustainable skills
- Connections to a vast space network of people, businesses and resources
- Mentorship of young leaders to be next-generation role models
To learn more about the Center for Innovation and Education, visit www.spacefoundation.org/cie/, and register for on-demand access to a complimentary detailed e-book at www.spacefoundation.org/cie-ebook/.
Entrepreneurship Programs Reveal Early Signs of Success
To date, the Center for Innovation and Education has piloted two successful programs through vital partnerships with public and private enterprises, government agencies, universities and local communities:
- Space Commerce Entrepreneurship Program – Funded primarily by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, Space Foundation conducted workshops in nine cities for 275+ minority entrepreneurs and small businesses. Spotlighting the program’s early success, one small business has signed multi-million-dollar deals, and other space scholars are progressing through engagements in the space community.
- Junior Space Entrepreneur Program (JSEP) – Supported by Lockheed Martin, NASA and Junior Achievement, a successful pilot program for 26 teachers from 16 states led to the first student entrepreneur program in early 2020 for 50 public high school students. This program won recognition in the Fast Company World Changing Ideas award competition.
Call to Action: Corporate Members, Partners, Sponsors, Grantors and Donors
Space has never been more important. It unites and inspires people around the globe, and the Center for Innovation and Education is committed to helping people find their place in the space economy. With unemployment high and schools closed, this mission is even more critical.
“Every person on planet Earth can find a place in the space economy, regardless of the present state of the job market,” said Tom Zelibor, CEO, Space Foundation. “The space industry has remained one of the most resilient business sectors throughout the COVID-19 crisis. With 80% of business coming from private enterprise, and ample time for building awareness and skills, a rare opportunity exists to solve the workforce shortage and drive innovation forward in the space economy.”
Tom introduces the Center for Innovation and Education at www.spacefoundation.org/cie/.
“Space Foundation has spent the last three decades developing and collaborating with the largest global network of space professionals in order to conduct world-class training and research,” said Shelli Brunswick, COO, Space Foundation. “We rely on corporate members, partners, sponsors and grantors to support our efforts to deliver services to the global space community. The Center for Innovation and Education can take these assets and apply them to build today’s professional workforce and a strong pipeline for the future.”
To learn more about supporting Space Foundation and contributing to its impact on the workforce development and economic opportunities in the space economy, visit www.spacefoundation.org/join-us/.