2014 was the 50th anniversary of Europe’s entry into the ‘space race’. Today, over 35,000 people are employed directly by the space industry across Europe.

Europe’s participation in the market is spearheaded by ESA. In 1964 two organisations were established:

  • The European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO)
  • The European Space Research Organisation (ESRO)

Just over ten years later, these two organisations were replaced by the European Space Agency (ESA) as the vehicle to drive innovation and increased European cooperation.

ESA has played an important part in establishing independent European access to space itself and to the technological and commercial opportunities it offers. The forecast for huge growth in European space activity will drive forward from this foundation and maintain Europe’s status at the forefront of space research and operation.

ESA has an annual budget of some £5.5 billion. This Europe-wide governmental funding stimulates both government and commercial markets, like the growth in satellite deployment for example, where all sectors have an interest.

The EU market acts as a model for the future of space industry programme staffing: assembly of the right blend of knowledge and experience with teams comprising multinational participants.

The space industry is research-led, requiring the brightest people from an array of specialist domains. The expanding market is likely to lead to skills shortages, at least in the short term, as the supply of qualified people expands to meet demand.

Line and HR managers will need to plan effectively if they are to attract and retain the permanent and temporary workers required for success and to maintain competitive advantage.