Forestry Sector Skills Gap Recognised in Defra Report
Forestry Sector Skills Gap Addressed
A recent Defra report,Strategic Analysis of Capability and Capacity to Undertake Tree-Health-Related Research and Evidence Activity in the UK, has recognised the skills gap in the forestry sector.
The report identified three areas where existing research providers lack current capability and/or capacity in one or more types of expertise.This included pest and pathogen biology and epidemiology, control and management and adaptation and resilience in forests and forestry.
Russell Horsey, ICF Deputy Director, said:
“There is a significant shortage of graduate Foresters and Arboriculturalist across the whole of the UK, which is affecting companies of all sizes. The Institute welcome Defra’s report and welcome more awareness raising among young people of the rewarding forestry and arboriculture career opportunities available”.
ICF’s comments support a call by Harper Adams University, Shropshire, to address the skills gap in the sector. Professor Simon Leather, Professor of Entomology, commented:
“The report highlighted the widespread concerns about the lack of undergraduate and even more critically, the lack of MSc and PhD opportunities in forestry and tree health in particular.
“Much of this has been a result of universities replacing specialist niche degrees with more broadly-based subjects perceived to be more attractive to students. A key recommendation of the report is that funding needs to be put in place to support postgraduate level teaching and training support. This is to ensure a new generation of individuals capable of working in the area of tree health, assisting a smoother and more efficient transition from broad-based undergraduate biology degrees to PhD level research.
“Another recommendation from the report is that a virtual Centre for Tree health Science should be created. This would be created by linking together those organisations currently active in the field and with appropriate training provision available.”