Green skills shortage highlighted by report

The first research into skills shortages in park and other open space management roles reveals a worrying lack of trained staff.

The report, Green Space Skills, was produced by English Heritage and CABE and published this week.

Information in the survey reveals an 'urgent need' to address the skills shortfall to tackle climate change.

It looks at green space employers in the public and private sectors and claims 'the recession and service cuts' are hitting employment in parks and green space jobs 'hard'.

English Heritage's head of gardens and landscapes, John Watkins, said: "Public parks continue to be a Cinderella service for many local authorities, often the first to be cut in challenging financial times.

"This research illustrates the worrying skills gap and skills shortage, as well as the vulnerability of our public green spaces which rely on consistent skilled maintenance if they are not to decline."

Budgets for training in green space skills are 20% lower for green space employees in the public sector, at an average of £245 per employee against the public sector average of £305 per employee.

This signals a need for new, creative ways of working and learning, such as skill sharing and mentoring between organisations in the sector.

Labour shortages are particularly acute in landscape architecture, at 22.5%, according to private sector green space professionals, while in the public sector horticulturalists, at 16.4%, are seen as the most difficult to recruit.

Luke Walsh


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