Future Foresters Sector Skills and Training Research Project for England and Wales

Carried out by: Royal Forestry Society

Summary Description:

This research will map the current provision of training and skills in forestry in England and Wales, making an assessment of current and future needs, and research barriers to meeting those needs, in order to inform an action plan to address gaps and barriers.

Timescale: 2017-2018

SFT Funds Awarded: £2,500

Project Outcomes:

A desk based study of ONS Labour force, Annual Business and Annual Population Survey data shows that the number of employed and self-employed people working on the forestry sector is significantly higher than it was in the last two decades. Total employment figures in silviculture (and other forestry activities), logging and forestry support services have increased in England and generally remained stable in Wales over the last decade. Employers and stakeholders were surveyed and the results show that, overall, employers and stakeholders feel that the sector is in a much better position than it was some years ago. People surveyed generally agreed that both the availability and suitability of staff has improved over time.

A wide range of training and provision is available to the forestry sector in England and Wales, ranging from short vocational courses, though to full-time postgraduate degrees. Training providers are numerous and varied (offering formal and informal). The report provides an overview of courses offered in Higher Education, Further Education and by informal training providers


How have the results been used?

The skills study report makes 10 recommendations that will be used to inform the preparation of a future Skills Action Plan. These are summarised below:

1. Continue to promote forestry as a career and find new ways to support young entrants into the sector.

2. Encourage more female school pupils to consider forestry as a career by promoting a positive image of the sector.

3. Support Further Education colleges to form working relationships with industry partners.

4. Support Higher Education institutions to form relationships with industry partners that will help to improve ‘work readiness’ for people leaving higher education.

5. Increase awareness of new ‘Trailblazer’ apprenticeship scheme by promoting these opportunities to employers.

6. Investigate mechanisms that will enable small and micro businesses to take on apprentices (e.g. group schemes).

7. Support machine operator training providers to improve and extend the types and quality of training on offer.

8. Investigate the need for and viability of a ‘Forest Technician’ grade of employee, who would be able to undertake a wider range of forestry duties.

9. Investigate ways in which experienced operatives could be upskilled as training providers, so they can pass on their skills to the new generations.

10. Develop diverse professional development networks to improve informal career development opportunities.

The Executive Summary of the final report is available to download here.

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