Study to establish what skills are needed for the future of forestry
The Royal Forestry Society on behalf of the Forestry Skills Forum has appointed RDI Associates Ltd to undertake a sector skills study that will help to identify the skills gaps and shortages, training provision and future needs of the forestry industry in England and Wales.
The study will take place over the coming months and will focus on the forest establishment, management and harvesting sub-sectors to provide an evidence base that will allow a skills action plan to be developed.
Funding and in-kind support for the study has been provided by the Royal Forestry Society, Forestry Commission England, Woodland Heritage, the Scottish Forestry Trust and the National School of Forestry, University of Cumbria.
RDI Associates will be liaising with Higher and Further Education institutions, undertaking desk top research and conducting a new survey over the summer which will focus on interviews with employers and industry stakeholders.
“A key priority for the forestry sector is to achieve continued growth and the increase in active management of existing woodlands; this requires a workforce that is skilled and responsive to future opportunities and demands for the forestry sector," said RFS Education Manager, Ted Wilson.
“Statistical and anecdotal evidence suggests that the forestry sector is not recruiting enough new entrants to replace the increasing number of employees approaching retirement age. We are concerned that an emerging skills shortage may limit the growth potential of the forestry sector. We are delighted that RDI Associates will be working with us to establish the extent of this shortfall and point the way forward for employers and education providers”.
RDI Associates Ltd has brought together a team of experts to tackle this challenging study, who between them have a hundred years’ experience working in the forestry sector across a wide range of disciplines and with a broad geographic spread.
“The team undertaking the skills survey has extensive experience of engaging with forest owners, managers and contractors in an industry that is characterised by its micro- and small businesses”, said RDIA’s Director, Will Richardson. “Our extensive experience of analysing the needs of forestry businesses and translating the evidence gathered into strategic documents will help get to the bottom of potential barriers to employment in the sector such as pay and conditions, the attractiveness of the jobs and whether there are recognised career opportunities and progression pathways”.
The study will focus on the forest establishment, management and harvesting sub-sectors and will involve liaison with both Higher and Further Education institutions. The results of the study are expected to be announced before the end of the year.
The purpose of the Forestry Skills Forum is to:
• agree collective, collaborative and individual actions across industry and other organisations on priority skills issues
• share information
• provide a unified voice for advocating and promoting education, learning and development in forestry
Activity will focus on:
• Improving/promoting the image of the sector, providing information and attracting new talent
• Workforce development
• Labour Market Intelligence
• Further/Higher Educational provision
The group’s objective is to be a collective voice across the sector on skills:
• Supporting the development and delivery of a Skills Action Plan, and the Actions within it
• Challenging and encouraging industry to take the lead with the skills agenda
• Identifying gaps and duplications in provision, and taking actions to address them
• Informing and influencing on skills issues including qualification development and professional/educational interaction
• Making representations on education, learning and development issues on behalf of the sector e.g. at APF, and holding Grown in Britain Week events
• Communication, liaison and where appropriate joint working with Scotland and Wales, reflecting the ‘borderless’ nature of the forestry industry
Royal Forestry Society
1. The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) is the largest and longest established educational charity promoting the wise management of trees and woods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
2. For information go to www.rfs.org.uk. Follow us: Twitter: @royal_forestry, Facebook: Royal Forestry Society – RFS, Linked- In: Royal Forestry Society