Green space sector warns of Cinderella service
10 March 2010
Dominy Bird, 020 7070 6772 , email@example.com
CABE and English Heritage have today (9 March) published the first research to reveal the full extent of skills shortages in the green space sector, in careers ranging from parks managers to tree surgeons.
Green space skills, a survey of green space employers in the public, private and third sectors, provides an insight into the effects of the recession and service cuts on parks and green space jobs.
The recession is hitting green space organisations hard and is likely to have a big impact on the quality of the public realm. A quarter of those in the public sector expect a decrease in recruitment and a fifth say green space departments are experiencing a greater reduction in budgets than other local authority departments.
Sarah Gaventa, Director of Public Space at CABE, said:
‘It’s vital we attract talented people to join the green space professions – they provide an essential service we all use. Funding cuts in this sector can have a disproportionate effect and it could take a decade to recover, especially when it comes to apprenticeships and passing on skills. Green space departments get a fraction of the funding other sectors receive.’
John Watkins, Head of Gardens and Landscapes at English Heritage, 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.’
The survey shows the urgent need to address the skills shortfall to tackle climate change. Skills in planning, design and management needed to adapt green spaces to a changing climate are perceived by employers as a top priority for the future. However, these were exactly the skills employers felt their staff lacked most.
Budgets for training in green space skills are 20 per cent 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 per cent, according to private sector green space professionals, while in the public sector horticulturalists, at 16.4 per cent, are seen as the most difficult to recruit.
Notes to editors
- Green space skills 2009: national employer survey findings presents the findings of research conducted by Pye-Tait Consulting between July and October 2009 among 1,075 green space organisations in the public, private and third sectors. It can be downloaded from www.cabe.org.uk/publications/green-space-skills-2009. The survey defined green spaces according to national Planning Policy Guidance 17 (PPG17).
- This research was commissioned to meet the need for a strong evidence base of the problems facing the green space sector, identified as one of seven priorities in the CABE-led Skills to grow strategy. To find out more about Skills to grow and progress on the Skills to grow action plan, visit www.cabe.org.uk/public-space/skills/action-plan
- The 2009 Local Government Association survey of the local government workforce showed the public sector average training budget was £305 per employee.
- No one knows exactly how many green spaces there are in our urban areas, where they are, who owns them or what condition they are in. A new CABE Space research project, Urban green nation: Building the evidence base compiles and analyses data at a national level to discover what it says about publicly owned and managed urban green space. This will be published in late March and will be available at www.cabe.org.uk/publications
- CABE’s Grey to Green campaign highlighted that a shift in spending from grey to green of just 0.5 per cent in some local authorities could increase investment in urban green space by 141 per cent. To find out more about the Grey to Green campaign, visit www.cabe.org.uk/grey-to-green
- CABE is the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space. As a public body, we encourage policymakers to create places that work for people. We help local planners apply national design policy and offer expert advice to developers and architects. We show public sector clients how to commission buildings that meet the needs of their users. And we seek to inspire the public to demand more from their buildings and spaces. Advising, influencing and inspiring, we work to create well-designed, welcoming places.
- English Heritage is the government's statutory advisor on the historic environment and exists to protect and promote England's spectacular historic environment and ensure that its past is researched and understood. A total of 272 public parks and other public spaces are currently considered of sufficiently significant national merit to be included on English Heritage’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. www.english-heritage.org.uk