Career paths and Education Provision for Forestry

Carried out by: University of Aberdeen

Summary Description:

While there is some indication of factors that may influence young people’s career choice in forestry, there have been no in depth studies looking at forestry as a career choice, or the key trigger points in the decision making process in the UK. This proposal, therefore, addresses that gap. Extensive longitudinal research undertaken in relation to, for example, the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education fields suggest that understanding and influencing post 16 career choices and paths requires in depth knowledge and understanding of young people's aspirations and attitudes towards specific disciplines /fields as well as information on how they acquire such knowledge and attitudes.

. With respect to forestry the UNECE/FAO (2006) report using data from Germany, UK and Nordic countries, suggested that “career advice on forestry is at best ambivalent and at worst negative”, a view also reported in New Zealand. The UNECE/FAO report looking specifically at gender in forestry and suggested that childhood experiences in nature has a significant influence on career choice in forestry, particularly for young people having positive experiences through living close to, or visiting, forests.

This proposal builds on the notion of an ecological model' (see CEIC 2008) of young people's career choice journey. This model emphasises the importance of taking into account the varied and dynamic experiences, influences and relationships that shape young people's aspirations as they navigate through schools in making career choices.

 

 

Timescale: 2018-2019

SFT Funds Awarded: £4,000

Project Outcomes:

While this was a small-scale study using only four case study schools and responses from a small number of forestry students and career guidance teachers, it does, nevertheless confirm studies which have been concluded elsewhere, but not in Scotland. In this respect it confirms in a Scottish context some of the findings of the Royal Forestry Society Forestry Skills Study for England and Wales and also their study of current and future skills in the forestry sector. What becomes clear is the lack of awareness or understanding of the diversifying range of job and career opportunities currently and potentially available in the forestry sector.

There is a need for forestry related organisations to examine ways in which they can be more proactive in communicating information to young people. This is perhaps important given the message of expansion being suggested in the Scottish Government’s consultation on the forestry strategy for 2019-2029. What also is apparent from the data is that key influencers such as immediate family and friends, as well as career guidance teachers, need to have more information about forestry and forestry related jobs, which goes beyond the immediate timber harvesting and industrial model of forestry to encompass the more diverse range of opportunities which arise from multipurpose forestry.

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