As the professional body for the forestry sector it’s vital that we understand the development needs of our members. Continuing Professional Development is more important than ever as growing pressure is put on our sector by the dual climate and nature crisis and the ongoing skills shortage. In autumn 2021 we asked all Institute members to complete a survey about their CPD needs.
We wanted to find out about attendance at and satisfaction with the events we’ve been offering and what members want to see in going forward. We used the feedback from the 2019 CPD survey to develop the programme of events on offer in the last two years and find out how best to support members. Here’s what we learned from the 2021 survey.
We had 329 complete responses, 19% of the total membership. This was well balanced between membership categories and regions and 20% of respondents worked in one of the four arboriculture employment categories.
- We had an extremely positive response to our online event offering during the pandemic
- A balance needs to be struck between online, in-person and hybrid events in the future
- There is high demand for a wide range of topics
Respondents rated both the CPD opportunities offered by the Institute and our management of the CPD process at 7.7 out of 10.
Overall satisfaction was high, with a very small number reporting partly or not at all satisfied. 19% of respondents had attended 1-2 events in the last year, 28% attended 3-4 and 18% 5-6. The main obstacle to attending events, unsurprisingly, was being too busy with work.
It was considered a high priority to continue offering online events, as well as to provide more resources and signposting in the Members’ Area, and 90% said the frequency of comms about CPD events was ‘about right’.
Many respondents had also attended events by Forestry Commission/Defra, Royal Forestry Society, Confor and the Arb Association. 76% say we should partner with other organisations to deliver CPD events, especially with Forest Research (263 people chose this option).
There were over 100 votes for every one of the 102 topics we listed. Comparing the 2019 survey, there was continued high interest in climate change, species selection, environmental regulation, ash dieback, soils and productive forestry with native species.
We asked respondents to choose whether they wanted each topic delivered online, in person or as a hybrid event, and there was high demand for online options. For national events, almost three quarters wanted a hybrid option.
We have reported the results to staff, Council and the Regional Group leads and we’re developing a programme of CPD events to meet members’ needs. This includes partnering wherever possible with other organisations.
There are plans to redevelop the Members’ Area and we welcome comments on any way we can better support members’ professional development at this critical time.
The CPD survey is separate from the main membership survey, which will be circulated in the spring. We hope to hear from as many members as possible to shape the Institute’s priorities into the future.