Vol. 5, Issue 10
Over forty young professionals from around the world gathered to address the question: What does the next-generation workforce need to be successful?
On Friday, September 28, 2012, forty-plus young professionals from government, academia, and industry from all over the world came together to engage in a workshop about their future. With many challenges facing the next generation—including a looming generation gap that could jeopardize critical knowledge—workshop delegates shared stories, insights, and data about their work experiences and developed recommendations to begin addressing these challenges.
The idea for the workshop stemmed from a meeting convened in late 2011 by the International Project Management Committee (IPMC), an organization of space agencies, companies, and professional organizations dedicated to sharing experiences and best practices with space program/project management practitioners at the global level. One topic of interest was how the IPMC might be able to support the development of the next-generation workforce.
As a result, the IPMC, in collaboration with the International Astronautical Federation, supported the 2012 IPMC Young Professionals Workshop, with the goal of gathering input on what today’s space organizations can do to better develop and empower the next generation workforce.
The workshop focused the delegates on discussion topics that covered opportunities and challenges young professionals face, mentors and mentorship programs, exchanges and rotational assignments, motivating factors for young professionals, and the interface between the technical and managerial career paths. In order to capitalize on their limited face-to-face time at the workshop, the delegates participated in pre-workshop sessions through Skype and telecon, and collaborated through a Facebook group.
“I have never met so many young space professionals from all over the world,” said Francesca Moretto, who has studied space law and is currently a fellow in the Italian Space Agency’s International Relations Unit. “Working together made me realize the deep diversity and cultural approach to young people, but also that we have a common purpose to change things and create new opportunities. I really hope that this effort will continue to develop itself and reach new goals.”
The organizing committee for the workshop prepared a presentation for the IPMC to discuss the preliminary findings from the workshop. The delegates reported that some benefit is gained from existing young professional programs, but there is more to accomplish, and they proposed ideas to further explore or add. Some key recommendations included:
- Allow young professionals to participate in high-level meetings (international or not related to their current project), either as observers or in more critical roles
- Consider incorporating online course materials from various institutions into professional development plans
- Facilitate more networking and cross-collaboration opportunities at conferences, meetings, and workshops in physical and/or virtual space
- Reduce administrative barriers to internal, cross-agency, and international exchanges that broaden professional experience and perspective
The IPMC, the workshop organizing committee, and delegates from the workshop engaged in an hour-long conversation about the presentation, the final report on the workshop, and next steps for the group as a whole.
“The presentation and discussion on Saturday showed that the IPMC is interested in the opinions of the young professionals and their ideas,” said Patrick Hambloch, an operations engineer for the International Space Station at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). “My hope is that this was not a one-off event. Clearly the ways we work on space projects are changing, and at least a part of the people who participated in the workshop showed interest to continue to work on improving the way we work in space.”
Learn more about the IPMC.