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    Study to establish what skills are needed for the future of forestry

    The RFS 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 RFS, 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 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 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 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.

    Pictured: from left: RFS Education Manager Ted Wilson, University of Cumbria’s Mark Tomlinson, Forestry Commission England’s Steve Fowkes, Woodland Heritage’s Guy Marshall and Will Richardson and Martin Glynn from RDI Associates

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