Survey warns parks are the "Cinderella service"

Research shows a lack of investment in training and recruitment in the green space sector.

CABE and English Heritage have published research revealing the full extent of skills shortages in the green space sector, in careers ranging from parks managers to tree surgeons.

Green space skills 2009, 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.

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.

CABE Space director Sarah Gaventa explained: "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."

English Heritage's head of gardens and landscapes added: "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. 

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.

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