Q&A: New initiative brings universities and space sector closer together

Summary

The space industry has undergone major shifts in recent years, and a new initiative wants to open students’ eyes to the career opportunities it offers today

A world of opportunities

Over the next decade, the European space industry is expected to face a shortage of skilled employees. To address the looming gap, the sector has teamed up with local academics to create YouSpace, a platform that brings students together with space professionals. Philip De Man, YouSpace programme manager, tells us more about the new initiative.

What is YouSpace?
YouSpace is a platform where students and young professionals interested in working in the space industry can connect with people who are active in the field. The idea is to open up career opportunities to Belgian students and, by extension, help the European space industry – and in particular Belgian space companies – to fill the increasing number of vacant positions with talented individuals.

Why are there so many vacancies in the space industry?

Over the past couple of years, we have been witnessing a real overhaul of the space sector. Until recently, most people in the industry were engineers working in aerospace or astrophysicists conducting scientific research. Such restrictions gave the space industry a reputation of being nearly impenetrable.

However, with the multiplication of space applications, the types of jobs have considerably increased and diversified. As a result, the space sector is now looking for not only people with specific scientific and engineering backgrounds, but also professionals with degrees in law, international relations, economics and psychology. What’s more, 35% of all people working in the European space industry are between 48 and 58 years old. Within the next 10 years, as they retire, the sector will face a real shortage of employees.

Isn’t that great news for graduates?
Students in areas typically not associated with the space industry, including the humanities, are unaware of the career opportunities in the sector, or they think such aspirations are unrealistic. The challenge is to make the scientific and technical fields more accessible to them.

How will YouSpace do this?
The website lists a number of profiles of mentors – professionals from the space sector and academia – who are ready to offer advice and coaching to the students. Students choose the profile most fitting for their aspirations, register as mentees, and we match the two together. To encourage this interaction, YouSpace will organise annual meetings between students and professionals at all major local universities.

Photo: The YouSpace launch event at the Senate
© YouSpace