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Where do space and skills collide?

of space sector adverts name software development as the most ‘in-demand’ technical skill
interns have become alumni of the SPINtern programme
of SPIN alumni go on to work in the space or tech sectors upon graduation
work experience placements in the sector facilitated by the SPIN programme over the past 10 years

Satellite Applications Catapult’s ambition is to grow the space sector across the whole of the UK and close related skills gaps. The Catapult works closely with the sector including the UK Space Agency (UKSA), Ministry of Defence Space Command and DSIT Space Directorate to support growth and create opportunities at all levels, ensuring employers can attract, develop, and retain a skilled workforce.

There is a growing demand for scientific, engineering and technical skills in the industry, including AI and machine learning, but also soft skills, particularly those associated with collaborative working and commercial awareness. There is a general lack of recognition of the importance of space in everyday life and therefore of the careers that the sector can offer.

The flagship SPIN programme, supported by and lead alongside UKSA, brokers work experience in the sector and has provided almost 450 placements over the past 10 years. These real-world opportunities have led to job offers and to a much wider understanding of the opportunities presented by the sector for many students who would otherwise have gone elsewhere.

In addition, regional clusters are being supported as they develop local Skills Strategies and initiatives, notably in the North, both East and West where thriving communities and networks have been established to share expertise and best practice. In 2022, Space Hub Yorkshire hosted activities around the SPIN Showcase event which raised awareness of the space sector and the skills requirements needed for future growth and success.

Satellite Applications Catapult also supports skills development through engagement with space-oriented UKRI Centres for Doctoral Training and via the Researchers in Residence Programme, now Innovation Launchpad Network+. Working with other Catapults and Innovate UK, the Satellite Applications Catapult is also participating in ongoing pilot projects to carry out Workforce Foresighting around new and emerging technologies, which support the long-term objective of developing more apprenticeship opportunities. These collaborative activities feed into the development of a National Space Skills Institute with a solid evidence base. [1] 

[1] Space Sector Skills Survey 2020 

The SPIN programme, which has been co-led by the Satellite Applications Catapult since their establishment over 10 years ago, has gone from strength to strength. It is really exciting to meet company leaders who are employing SPINterns who themselves were SPINterns once.

Peter Trussell
Skills for Space Lead, UK Space Agency