Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year end blog 2009!

2009 is finally coming to a close. I say finally because it has been a troubling, difficult, and sobering year that leaves 16 million Americans looking for work, one in six Americans hungry, and over 30 million Americans without health insurance. It was the last year of life for notables like Ted Kennedy and Michael Jackson. Steve McNair, Patrick Swazey, Farrah Fawcett, Paul Harvey, Jack Kemp, Billy Mays, Walter Cronkite, Les Paul, Robert Novak, Dominick Dunne, Oral Roberts, and novelist John Updike all past away in 2009. The Dow hit 6547 on March 9th and 401 K's crumbled as many baby boomers attempted to retire while Bernie Madoff swindled thousands out of millions.

The global economic recession even softened the celebration of the biggest event of the decade (the inauguration of the United States' first black president). Today we retire 2009 and not a minute too soon. I'm looking forward to the promise of 2010 and making this blog a new place to discuss topics important to Ty Touchard. So here is to the New Year!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Geospatial Careers Blog...

The Geospatial Career Leader, GeoSearch, Inc., is the new home of The Geospatial Careers Blog...

In the future, this blog will focus on news, opinions, and whatever Ty Touchard wants to blog about! :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This is Geography Awareness Week…

The National Geographic Society promotes Geography Awareness Week (GAW) every November in the third week. It is a week for classroom activities, awareness events, and after-school programs providing students opportunities to know and understand their planet by bringing geography to life. National Geographic offers resources and cool interactive map downloads that make the subject fun, interesting, and educational for children of all ages.

A grassroots celebration that encourages GIS users to open their doors to schools, businesses, and the general public on November 18th is called GIS Day. This awareness campaign lets GIS users share their knowledge and passion with others by demonstrating the tremendous impact GIS technology is making in our lives each day. 10,000 organizations in over 80 countries celebrate GIS Day. This tradition began in 1999 and is always celebrated on the Wednesday of National Geographic's GAW.

Colorado GIS Day events include GIS Alley Fort Collins CO, Jefferson County Colorado Golden CO, GIS Services ESRI Henderson CO, event focus on GIS Services Boulder County Longmont CO, City of Thornton Thornton CO, event focus on GIS Services Adams County Colorado Westminster CO, event focus on Planning/Economic Development ESRI Aspen CO GIS Services Mountain Shadows Montessori School Boulder CO, Boulder County Boulder CO event focus on Agriculture, Assessor/Cadastral Records, Conservation, Demographics/Census/Elections, GIS Services, Health and Human Services, Law Enforcement, Planning/Economic Development, Public Safety/Emergency Management, Survey, Telecommunication, Transportation/Fleet Management, Water Resources, Boulder CO K-12 Education Tri-State G&T Assoc. Inc. Brighton CO, event focus on Electric/Gas Utility Kohl Elementary Broomfield CO K-12 Education ESRI Broomfield CO K-12 Education ESRI Broomfield CO K-12 Education City and County of Denver Denver CO, and at Colorado State University Fort Collins CO.

If you attended a GIS Day event, let me know how it went.

Today is also the American Cancer Society's 34th annual Great American Smokeout - For smokers who want to kick the habit, an American Cancer Society interactive Web page offers help on how to quit for good.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The First Rung of the Ladder…

This blog has been following the geospatial career market. Most current indicators point to great demand for an increasing number of geospatial related services in dozens of markets from smart grid technologies, location intelligence, and mobile applications to name a few. Job seekers will tackle the overall employment increase by stepping on many different rungs of the corporate ladder.

Now, there is good news for those that need to start on the first rung of the ladder. The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a grant to The Pikes Peak Community College Geography Department in August of 2009. This pilot program seeks to implement a Tiered Internship Model for Students in Geospatial Technology (TIMSGeoTech). Interns that have an interest in starting a geospatial career can participate in this program and create a network of contacts while gaining school credit.

The funding of $149,542 will sustain the program from this year through the summer 2011. Under-represented groups will benifet from TIMSGeoTech through outreach to workforce development offices, by providing resources to unemployed and underemployed individuals. The PPCC GIS Advisory Board, made up of Colorado industry professionals starting with Donna Arkowski, the PPCC Geography Department chair, and Dr. Irina Kopteva, principal investigator for the project and adjunct Geography and GIS instructor. The work is supported by Mary-Ann Wermers, dean of Health, Environmental, Natural & Physical Sciences; Jennifer Jirous, Colorado Community College System; Jason San Souci, executive vice president and chief operating officer of NCDC Imaging & Mapping; Richard Serby, president and owner of GeoSearch, Inc.; Jay Tilley, senior vice president and general manager of Sanborn, Inc.; Cynthia Pesek, director for Career and Technical Education at Academy School District 20; Patressa Gardner, South Carolina Advanced Technological Education (SC ATE) Center; and Dr. Phillip Davis, National Geospatial Technology (GeoTech) Center.

The results of TIMSGeoTech will provide many opportunities for programming students. There are always geospatial jobs for candidates using VB, Java, Python, html, xml, ESRI's map objects, and other programs that integrate provide digital map development, spatial data management, application development, data migration, and more. GIS is a rapidly changing and developing industry.

To step on the first rung of the ladder in this industry, a GIS certificate and AAS degree, along with a full retinue of GIS coursework is a great place to start.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Climate Change, Clean Tech Jobs, and Blog Action Day 2009...

Blog Action Day 2009 organized by got 13,601 blogs from 156 countries with more than 18 million readers to participate in an annual event held every October 15th where bloggers across the world unite to write about a single issue on a single day. This year the issue was Climate Change. More than 50 nonprofit partners including the TckTckTck coalition and The Alliance for Climate Protection added support not to mention that United Kingdom, Spain, and The White House joined the cause.

All the big players played. The GIANTS of blogging, which includes Mashable, asked followr's how we can reverse climate change? Suggestions for save the world were sought by The Unofficial Apple Weblog, and The Official Google Blog's green tour roamed the company's campus. Greenpeace made a video and WWF bloggers from around the globe exhausted the subject, while The Nature Conservancy devoted it's voice to outlining the science of climate change.

Somehow, this blog missed the news of the event until recently but would have blogged about what Climate Change is doing for geospatial careers. I know this isn't Oct 15th but this is a great topic for my blog. At a time when the overall employment picture remains grim, one sector known as "clean tech", is enjoying real job growth. Thanks to infusions of federal government stimulus money, state lobby efforts, excitement in venture capital investment and moves by traditional industrial corporations Clean Tech is in demand to improve efficiency, cut pollution and bolster renewable energy.

The geospatial growth area is the smart grid. A loose term that includes everything from enhanced monitoring and control of the existing electrical grid to improved consumer energy management. The Economist Magazine suggests that the federal stimulus package alone would spur enough spending on clean energy to create an estimated 2.5m jobs, from academic researchers to factory workers making wind turbines. President Obama announced $3.4 billion in spending projects to modernize the nation's electric power system on Oct 27th at a solar plant in Arcadia, Fla. White House officials say the projects will create tens of thousands of jobs in the "near term" and lay the groundwork for changing how Americans use and pay for energy.

Search for "smart grid," and some 775 jobs come up, including, hardware, software, and project engineers. GeoSearch also has jobs looking for experience in the siting and permitting of Energy (Wind/Solar/Power) and/or Transmission projects in the US.

The collective effort of Blog Action Day 2009 to address the issue of climate change seems remarkable. The effort is on-going and you can get involved, by visiting their Take Action section. This blog will continue to monitor updates and ongoing opportunities for involvement here in the coming weeks and months ahead, and hope you'll stay join me.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Job Loss Offset by Strategic Planning...

A key component to the geospatial market place is city, county, state, and federal agency business. The activity occurring today originated with opportunity tracking in administrations that have long since expired. Future business is being secured now in strategic planning sessions that are establishing contracts that will carry organizations offerings through the next decade.

Engineers and architects, GIS analysts and developers, all face a tough job market, but thanks to the long term contracting vehicles awarded in the previous decade, geospatial employment has been less volatile as say publishing jobs that are disappearing because companies have cut back on advertising spending and readers are increasingly turning to the Internet for free content.

Last week at the 2009 GEOINT Symposium, exhibiters highlighted the future of geospatial technology and the continuing need for geospatial information. 3D holographic imaging, launched satellite images, and earth measuring instrumentation are developed to meet long term demands of governments around the globe.

Today's total unemployment numbers reported by the Department of Labor show that there were 530-thousand initial jobless benefits claims filed last week, only one-thousand fewer than in the previous week. The total number of unemployment claims for the week ending October 17th, including continuing claims, is down to about 5.8 million. That's a drop of 148-thousand, the lowest level for continuing claims this year since March. The biggest improvement in the numbers is found in Wisconsin, New York state and Pennsylvania.

This quarter has shown an uptick in geospatial job prospects and a renewed enthusiasm for this sectors work and technology is echoed by the earnings reported by publicly traded imagery providers, imagery information product companies and image processing services organizations. It's been a tough year but job losses have certainly been offset by the strategic planning sessions that secured dependable business.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hot Job Market For Global Mobile Applications...

Human demand for superior communications won't subside until every inch of the world has access to digital communication. Enovation in voice, video, and Internet communications services is at an all time high, which is why mobile phone subscriptions now outnumber fixed-line subscriptions in several markets. Many third world countries have bypassed wired communications all together. This kind of growth is good news for surveying companies and GIS communities who will play major roles in developing this entirely new framework.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment numbers for mobile service workers will grow because technological advances will expand the range of services offered. Wireless jobs only account for 21% of the telecommunications industry which provided 973,000 wage and salary jobs in 2006. Half of telecom workers are employed by businesses with 5 to 249 employees and with continuing deregulation there is even more opportunity for small contractors.

Geospatial related companies from Brazil, Bosnia, Finland, Czech Republic, Germany, and Australia have all penned major infrastructure development contracts for mobile GIS in 2009. Yesterday, Iridium Communications Inc. received authorizations to operate, provide and sell mobile satellite services (MSS) in Mexico. Low-earth orbiting (LEO) satellite constellations provide service where no other means of communication exists. Demand is responsible for modern world networks like GSM, GPRS, 3G and now 4G to carry GIS applications geared toward industries and government agencies that require reliable communications at all times.

Greater demand for an increasing number of geospatial related services in every vehicle, home, building, aircraft, and ship, will cause overall employment in the global mobile applications market to increase. In addition, many job opportunities will result from the need to replace a large number of communication workers who are expected to retire in the coming decade. With a growing number of retirements and the continuing need for interested, qualified, and available candidates, new job opportunities will be available for individuals with up-to-date technical skills and geospatial knowhow. It’s a hot market for global mobile applications. Jobs prospects will be best for those with 2 or 4-year degrees.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Excellent timing!

The geospatial community is turning attention away from last week's Location Intelligence 2009 conference held in Denver to the GEOINT 2009 Symposium in San Antonio, Texas. These events provide tremendous networking opportunities for both attendees and exhibitors. They highlight the advances in geospatial technology. These events showcase cutting edge technologies that significantly improve performance, productivity, and geospatial ability across industry, academia, government, professional organizations and individual stakeholders.

These particular conferences seemed to have timed the market duri
ng an uptick. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged closer to the 10000 level this week and economists report rising confidence about an economic recovery. Geospatial companies like DigitalGlobe made news when it's new WorldView-2 satellite launched into space last week from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Perenco (an oil and gas exploration and development company) just contracted Fugro EarthData, Inc. to provide detailed topographic mapping of a proposed oil pipeline route in northern Peru. Airport technology company Faith Group LLC including Woolpert Inc. was awarded a $378,000 contract to conduct an information technology master plan for the Cleveland Airport System (CAS).

The geospatial community is well positioned to capture its fair share of the economic rebound. I should caution that although many economists now believe the national recession has ended, experts also think the economic rebound will be drawn out over many months. Still, according to The Monster Employment Index, the fall job search season is kicking into high gear at all levels from entry-level jobs on up to management-trainee, technical and professional full-time careers. The Index rose in August, seeing its highest monthly rate of improvement in four years. It dipped slightly in September but the October numbers are expected to ri
se again.

This ongoing economic volatility will continue and it will result in new challenges for organizations that need to be aggressively courting
the best talent available. Organizations will need an updated plan and strategy for recruiting talent as the economy turns around. Experienced, targeted, community specific recruiting firms will be more valuable in planning and developing the next workforce than ever before. The geospatial community is showing off some exciting technology and the development has created some outstanding career opportunities. Excellent timing!

The Monster Employment Index is a monthly gauge of U.S. online job demand based on a real-time review of millions of employer job opportunities culled from a large representative selection of corporate career Web sites and job boards, including Monster. This month, the GeoSearch job board had the highest monthly rate of job posting increases since August 2007.

Friday, October 9, 2009

When It Rains...

US stocks have been pushing higher and words like optimism, confidence, and even growth have been used to describe our current economy. This week at the Location Intelligence Conference in Westminster Colorado, several companies repeated the same story to the question "How's business?". The story included how difficult the first quarter of 2009 was and how the second quarter was equally bad. Then, sometime near the end of the third quarter orders started being generated and then business started to develop. For many, the third quarter matched the revenue for their 1st and 2nd quarters combined. One exebitor said that "With all this water in the atmosphere, it means its going to rain!" (Joe Francica, Conference Chairman pictured above)

GeoSearch provided the conference employment workshop where industry executives and employment specialist provided job seekers strategies to find employment in this tough job market. During this workshop, weekly initial jobless claims fell to the lowest level since the start of the year, signaling an improvement in economic activity.

One breakout session discussed location tracking and the mobile workforce. The three presenters included Robert Laudati from Trimble, David Hemphill from ObjectFX, and Ziv Baum from Zipano. The discussion detailed workforce tracking systems technically comprised with a combination of global positioning systems (GPS) and mobile phone technology using the internet and digital mapping to display data in real time. Each presenter discussed the topic from different perspectives. Trimble highlighted the hardware involved and some feature/benefit capabilities for workers in the field. ObjectFX discussed the 3D location abilities and the public safety vertical market that is interested in expanding this technology. Zipano focused on the social network applications of tracking friends, coworkers, and family and the privacy issues involved. The interest in this topic is hot. Interest in all of this technology is hot and these companies are adding staff. The CEO of Zipano - Zip Baum put it bluntly when he said "We need people".

Monday, October 5, 2009

Location Intelligence Conference 2009... Panel on Geospatial Jobs.

GeoSearch hosted and moderated the geospatial Jobs and the 2009 Economy workshop.

The Panelists included Richard Serby - President of GeoSearch in Colorado Springs.
Brian Soliday - President of Global Sales, Revenue Compass, Greater Denver Area.
John Corbett - CEO, aWhere in Golden CO.
Michael Bullock - VP Consumer Electronics and President, Intermap
Greater Denver Area.
Joe Berry - Principal, BASIS and Keck Scholar in Geosciences, University of Denver.

The workshop focused on individual employment concerns and questions. More details to come...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The New Energy Economy... Time to recruit!

There is an emerging need to recruit in what is called the "New Energy Economy"!

Let me explain... Analysts at the research group (New Energy) track worldwide investments into clean energy. On Friday, those analysts said that this year, $13.3 billion was invested in the first quarter, $28.6 billion in the second quarter, and thanks to "green" stimulus dollars pledged by major economies, investments in the third quarter reached $25.9 billion. They also revised their full year forecast to $115 billion from $95 billion. If the forecast holds, the 2009 investment levels would still fall short of 2007 and 2008 totals but the outlook for 2010 is positive. According to New Energy, pledges for worldwide Government stimulus spending equals about $163 billion on programs to promote renewable energy.

The New Energy Economy is the result of a global resolve to improve utility systems that deliver energy. US renewable-energy construction projects in Nevada are creating a demand for workers trained in emerging electrical systems. A $14.6 million smart Grid water power project funded by the DOE was just awarded in Palo Alto, CA. A portion of this funding is for developing a GIS-based dataset and software tools. Wide varieties of projects from coast to coast are starting to receive funding and will fuel the job growth for The New Energy Economy.

Vishal Shah of Barclays Capital in New York City published a Solar Energy Handbook in May and noted that solar’s dominant technology – crystalline – has realized a significant price drop that makes solar more competitive with fossil fuels. As the credit market starts to ease, Shah believes that starting in 2010, the volume of solar panels being shipped will triple during the next four years. This change in the market will trigger demands for workers and management.

Kevin Doyle, principal of Green Economy and co-chairman of the New England Clean Energy Council, said at a Mass Green Conference last week that for every $1 million invested in energy efficiency, almost 36 jobs are created. And while Alan Greenspan said today that the latest job report showing the nation’s unemployment at 9.8 percent was “pretty awful” and that he expected the figure to climb even higher, it doesn’t mean that some sectors will recover faster than others. Are you prepared to staff in the New Energy Economy?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Goliath Returns To Fight Small Business...

The trend of giant corporations comes and goes. In the mid 90's, huge corporations had retreated. By 1996 a full quarter of IBM's workforce disappeared when they laid-off 122,000 employees inside of five years. For the first time in its history, Boeing operated with a majority of its work done by contracting out 52 percent of its work because it couldn't manage its size. Continental, Pan Am and Midway, airlines with great traditions and a history of innovation, split up due to bankruptcy. Shareholders demanded blue chips do more with less. Corporate boards sought automation to replace workers and entrepreneurs were outsmarting their bloated foes.

Indeed, small start-ups were in high fashion. Dozens of disk-drive start-ups blossomed along with biotech start-ups and of course there were the's. Large service companies were viewed as less responsive and the best talent sought quick and nimble businesses like eBay and Yahoo. Workers were attracted by the upswing potential of an IPO and they wanted to take more risk. Everyone sought a ground floor opportunity. The era of the Goliath Corporation was ending.

Gigantic corporations have returned. An uptick in mergers and acquisitions is evidence that conglomerate partnerships will weed out mid-sized companies and produce huge corporate businesses. Last week Dell Inc. said it would buy Perot Systems Corp. for $3.9 billion, Oracle Corp. is closing a $7.4 billion deal for computer server and software maker Sun Microsystems Inc., and today Xerox will acquire ACS for about $6.4 billion.

These big companies have tons of resources that will allow them to emerge from the downturn stronger. Recruiting and retention efforts will focus on placing internal candidates first; to fulfill their succession plans and increase the satisfaction of its workforce. Large talent acquisition budgets will allow their internal recruiters to advertise open positions to large targeted demographic pools of candidates and large job fairs will lure crowds of job seekers that will fill out applications and compete for job openings. Large companies benefit from the fact that risk is not as attractive as it was in the late 90's.

What resources will small business have to compete for talent in the global economic recovery? The biggest advantage is that small (50 to 250 employee organizations) don't have to deal with the endless standardization and resoundingly-slow procedures that large companies mandate in their hire process. Corporate bureaucracy is real and is a huge disadvantage that doesn't hinder small firms. The consequences include great candidates that die on vine waiting for feedback on their resume or their interview results. Small companies can make decisions and actually put people to work without a comity reviewing the Meyers-Briggs personality profile of a candidate.

Smaller companies can compete for talent by using niche job boards or targeted recruiting firms. Since it takes time to review large stacks of resumes, the targeted approach reduces the time to compile a short list and professional recruiters actually manage schedules, calls, and meetings for their clients. Smaller firms should start building a pipeline of candidates that they can hire now while their Goliath counterparts are moving at the speed of molasses to hire fresh talent!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Double Digit Growth...

According to the American Staffing Association, the recruiting business has realized double digit growth after each of the past three recessions. Like prior recessions, when this bear market hit, employers focused on cutting cost, workforce reduction, and hire freezes. Surviving companies in the current market have retained only their strongest people. Much of this attrition will prove positive for firms that have used or are using this opportunity to eliminate unproductive employees and trouble makers.

A recovery is imminent. Businesses will thrive again and consumers will consume. Economists have highlighted several indicators that show a slowing rate of decline and many sectors have shown some kind of uptick. This week, the head of the Federal Reserve proclaimed the end of the US recession. If the end of the recession is in sight, what should companies do, right now, to position themselves for a successful rebound?

If historical data is a road-map, we should consider the recession set off in 2001 after September 11th. In that recession, companies moved quick to shed their workforce. Layoffs and hire freezes became common place and organizations value fell in rapid succession. Employers delayed growth initiatives, hesitated to invest in anything, and new start ups were scarce. Some sectors like travel and hospitality thought they would never bounce back.

However, experienced and savvy companies that reviewed their history books, took advantage of the talent surplus before June of 2003, when a recruiting war began and companies were aggressively filling empty seats to compete in the bull market recovery. Similarly, inexperienced and fearful companies failed to act quickly. They overspent, and lost out on the best talent. This is how companies end up with unproductive employees and trouble makers.

Smart and savvy firms will prepare now for post recessionary growth by making an active decision to capture bright, insightful talent before demand returns. It would be wise to develop a large candidate pool in each of the functional areas or labor categories that drive the business of the company. Not just sales people but developers, analysts, technical, management, and marketing professionals. The wider the net cast, the greater the chance of catching the right fish. Professional recruiting firms can develop the pool so that companies only talk to interested and qualified talent. Smart companies won't behave poorly while shopping for talent. (see my It's an Employers' Market blog)

Decisions are being made right now to be smart and savvy or frozen and fearful. Companies that choose to build a pipeline of talent and start shopping for a growing workforce will be miles ahead of the companies that wait and see. Choosing to wait for things to turn around will prove to be a costly mistake. The demand and fight for talent will be expensive. Don't wait for double digit growth to call your trusted recruiting firm.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's an Employers' Market. Ugh!

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is scheduled to release The Employment Situation for July 2009 on August 7th and the weekly jobless claims data is expected to show further decline giving those few organizations that are adding staff more confidence than ever to throw professionalism out the window.

Remember how employers had to behave during the dot com bull market when employee's were hard to find? Organizations across the country decided to develop an action plan for ethical practices in the hiring process when one was not already in place. This quick feedback and consistent communication made most transactions pleasant or at least polite.

Now that corporate America is flooded with resumes and operates in an environment of government audits and OFCCP compliance on their hiring practices, the trend of hiring one select candidate and treating the rest of the candidate pool with only the minimum amount of respect required by the federal government will continue.

One recent example includes a fortune 100 company that asked a select candidate pool to complete exhausting screening application where successful applicants were invited for an hour plus teleconference interview. So far, so good. The top two candidates were then invited for an on-sight interview with the hire manager and other staff. This too is in-line with a professional process. However, this was a four hour interview. After both of the four hour interviews, neither candidate was selected, the organization re-posted the position, and failed to return phone calls or emails from the original candidates! Five weeks later, the organization delivered an electronic notification that the position had been filled.

Forward looking organizations that recognize the long term value of professional business communication with respect to adding staff will be rewarded when the resume flood dries up. However, growing federal contractors don't follow that type of thinking. They have secure contracts 5, 7, even 10 years down the road and they have them with option years too. Yet, hiring organizations that act with arrogance and blatant disrespect, just because they happen to be growing in this down marked, would benefit from some sole searching and a small dose of modesty.

On the other hand, I congratulate organizations that have implemented traditional practices of explaining their decisions to top candidates and leaving doors open for the future. After all, the candidates that aren't a perfect fit today may very well be the perfect fit tomorrow.

I mean, I get it... It is an Employers' Market. But companies that act like it's a candidates market, will win when the tables turn. The tables always turn. They always have.