The first virtual meeting of the international World Meteorological Organization (WMO) symposium on Education and Training, and the 14th session of the symposium itself, took place from 22 to 25 November 2021. This WMO symposium is held every four years to provide recommendations to the WMO, policy-makers and governments, international organisations, and the education and training community itself. The meeting was attended by trainers and educators from all over the globe and had lots of lively discussion on how to develop education and training of current staff and the next generation of meteorologists and environmental scientists.
The symposium discussed a range of topics, which covered developments in the skills required by meteorologists and hydrologists and in turn those training and assessing them. Sarah Keeley led the thematic working group on the technological barriers that need to be overcome when remote teaching is needed. It was clear that the approach to any remote learning needs to take into account the available technology and the reliability of internet connections.
During the conference ECMWF presented a poster on how we had responded to the pandemic and rapidly adjusted our training delivery methods to maintain continuity of service, as well as the lessons we have learned over the past year to continue to improve them. Many attendees appreciated what we shared about our experience and the developments concerning our online classroom experience.
Focus on new areas
Many of the new challenges for the training community reflect changes in the scope of ECMWF’s work, where we are already making advances, but also in our working ethos. It was noted that the community could achieve more by collaboration and the pooling of resources and shared expertise. ECMWF has pioneered and championed probabilistic forecasting for decades, and the importance of training for the understanding and communication of probabilistic predictions was one key area that was highlighted. Other areas are gaining in importance throughout the meteorological community as we move to an Earth system approach and more predictions of impacts and climaterelated variables are required. Changes we have already undergone at ECMWF include an Earth system approach for our forecast systems and research; machine learning research; and delivering and contributing to the EU’s Copernicus services. These developments have naturally brought about changes in the training we offer as well, with new and adapted courses covering these areas. It was encouraging to see that this is supported by community requirements. The symposium recognised the need to train more people in applying advances in numerical weather prediction, the use of big data, and machine learning.
The meeting produced a roadmap for education and training, which aims to help increase the quality and capacity of meteorological training around the world. It endorsed the WMO Global Campus initiative to strengthen international and regional collaboration. The recommendations from the meeting aligned closely with the plans we have within our own Strategy for delivering and supporting training across the broad spectrum of ECMWF activities, which will also support our Member and Co-operating States and the wider community in meeting their training needs. For more details, visit https://public.wmo.int/en/media/news/education-and-training-period-of-rapid-change.