It is well known within the profession that the world is facing a shortage of surveyors, with plenty close to retirement age and not enough young people joining. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) found that the number of candidates taking surveying licensure exams is significantly down, and that the average surveyor is aged between 58 and 60. So what can be done? And, perhaps more importantly, what can you do?
In 2017, Elaine Ball Technical Marketing (an international consultancy specializing in surveying, operating out of the UK) launched a global campaign to Get Kids into Survey. The idea is to help children find out about surveying early on, and to learn that it’s an exciting and rewarding career. So she hit on a series of vivid, fun posters showing cartoon characters at work in a wide range of surveying scenarios. The original idea was that surveyors would use the posters to show their children what they do at work all day (after all, Elaine Ball’s father was a surveyor), but people soon took them into local schools where teachers built classes around them.
Taking Up the Challenge
Tim Burch is vice president of the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) and director of surveying at SPACECO, Inc. He describes how he first encountered #GetKidsintoSurvey a year ago: “I came across Elaine and her posters on social media and I thought, ‘What a neat idea.’ So I got in touch and said how much I appreciated what she was doing, and could we help? When she sent me a poster from the UK, I saw what it cost to mail and I thought, ‘This is crazy – there has to be a cheaper way.’ So NSPS offered to ship to the U.S., Canada and Mexico from here, and the rest is history.”
He explains why the campaign caught his attention. “The posters prove just how much goes into surveying. There’s math, history, geography, science, exploring. It’s not about sitting behind a desk. And I really want to broadcast what a great profession this can be. In my case, it’s offered me a good living and a worthwhile career. I’m really looking forward to seeing the [newly released] New York poster – and not just because I’m in it.”
Each poster is open to sponsorship by surveying firms and technology companies. So, like Tim, you can even appear in the posters yourself (or your dog or horse – as some sponsors have done).
Promoting the Profession
NSPS sends out a weekly e-newsletter to 26,000 recipients, and the #GKIS posters are mentioned in every edition. Trish Milburn, office manager at NSPS, organizes the shipping process – from single poster orders to as many as 750 (which are sent to sponsors for their use). She says, “Even though the process is time-consuming, we like to do it because the posters are awesome and really teachable. We’ve never had anything but really positive feedback – it’s a great product to have hanging up in schools and offices. The posters are so popular, we can’t keep them in stock and we have to keep ordering reprints.”
“Kids really enjoy the different characters and it’s a great way to learn about the different aspects of surveying,” she says. “Each poster comes with questions and answers to get the kids talking. They’re perfect for middle school students, because by the time they get to high school it’s too late, they’ve already committed to other options, and they no longer have the flexibility to consider something they never knew about before.”
Tim Burch particularly enjoys the diversity of surveying contexts shown in the posters, as well as other issues of diversity. “Everyone I talk to is amazed by these posters; they’ve opened people’s eyes to what the profession offers. This is the right program at the right time. Plus, what I really like is the way that the posters promote women and equality, especially with the character Geo Ginger. In my experience, female surveyors bring a fresh perspective to our work.”
#GKIS posters are free: you pay only for shipping, so you can get yours at elaineball.co.uk/shop. The NSPS ships them across the USA, Canada and Mexico, while the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES) ship them across the UK and Europe. Michelle Brooks of CDM Branding ships across Australasia.
Get Kids into Survey welcomes sponsorship enquiries, so anyone – and his dog – can help #GetKidsintoSurvey and protect the future of surveying.
Elly Ball, CEO | #GetKidsIntoSurvey
Trish Milburn | NSPS
240-439-4615 ext. 105