Harrogate-based geospatial professionals, Elaine Ball (43) and Elly Ball (33), have announced the launch of their new Get Kids into Survey global recruitment campaign to help save the future of surveying.
The project will introduce and educate the younger generation to the relatively unknown world of surveying and encourage them to consider it as a possible career path, creating a new generation of surveyors responsible for protecting the world.
Inspired by their father, industry legend Steve Ball, a hydrographer and mine surveyor, siblings, co-founders and inheritors of the Ball surveying dynasty Elaine and Elly set out to change the perception of survey by teaching budding geospatial experts that there is more to the profession than simply measuring distance and angles of land and natural features.
Take for example, Indiana Jones, primarily thought of as an archaeologist, Indi in fact employs many of the skills associated with surveyors in Raiders of the Lost Ark, including cartography (maps) and understanding land formations in order to uncover the Ark. It’s the mission of the Ball ladies to inspire and educate the next generation that surveying is an exciting and lucrative career choice.
There has been a recruitment problem within the industry for decades, resulting in the sector being dominated by white males with an average age of 55. Elaine and Elly, along with their team of dedicated professionals are now setting out to resolve that problem and secure the future of this vital industry.
“We want to educate children in exactly what surveying is and the many exciting career options available within the geospatial industry. It’s our aim to help parents and teachers to understand what surveying is and to be able to talk about it with their children.
“It’s a scary thought, but if we don’t educate children about surveying now, the industry will die out, resulting in devastating consequences. After all, without survey, we wouldn't be able to detect bombs, study planets, find diamonds, monitor wildlife, build bridges, measure earthquakes and volcanoes, carry out CSI forensics, design golf courses, create video games - the list goes on! Education really is our passport to the future.”
To help address the recruitment issue, Get Kids into Survey is launching The GeoSquad Comic; a 40-page digital download. The comic currently has one chapter available online, and is set to be released as a six chapter book, complete with activity sheets, on Monday 17 May, just in time for half term and the summer holidays.
The GeoSquad Comic is an illustrated introduction to the world of survey, created in collaboration with primary school teacher and children’s book author, Mat Sullivan. The comic is designed to appeal to children aged 8-12 in a fun and action-packed way.
The comic strips are based on a group of four friends; Maddison, Setsuko, Kwame and Miles as well as the 'The Last Surveyor' - loosely based on Elaine and Elly’s father, Steve. Together, the characters visit a career fair and enter a virtual reality world where they are told the story of what a world without surveyors would be like and the devastation that would occur. It goes on to show surveyors as the heroes of the future putting the world back together, which could be a very real possibility if the recruitment problem is not addressed now. It has everything a good kids story could need; time travel, robots, virtual reality, and of course, relatable and inspiring characters.
Elaine concludes “We are dedicated to showing young people that surveying can be fun, interesting and a rewarding career choice. On top of that, surveyors of the future could be responsible for protecting and even saving the world, or they could be helping to create computer games for their friends’ kids or the next CGI landscape in a Hollywood movie*, and that’s pretty cool too!”
The Get Kids into Survey project first took shape in 2017 when Elaine created a poster for the AGM of The Surveyors Association, UK. Designed to teach the surveyors children what their parents did for a living, the poster was an immediate hit, with requests for more flooding in.
Get Kids into Survey has now expanded to include an online hub of free resources with lesson plans, quizzes and colouring sheets, ‘SurveyFest’ events, an Education Fund to support ambassadors and school visits, and an educational comic strip.