Consultant slams skills survey for not including park professionals

Parks staff go unrespresented, says Barber

By Rachel Sixsmith An online survey that is supported by the Landscape Institute (LI) and looks at the skill gaps in the sustainable communities sector has come under fire by parks consultant Alan Barber. The survey is being conducted by the Academy for Sustainable Communities (ASC) to work out ways to improve the skills of professionals working towards sustainable communities. People such as urban designers, architects, engineers and planners are urged to fill in the questionnaire, which asks questions such as: “What academic or professional qualifications do you hold?” and “What generic skills are required for your job?” Barber, a freelance consultant for CABE, which specialises in urban parks and green spaces, has criticised the survey for not acknowledging that people working in public parks and recreation are among these professionals. He said: “Public parks and recreation go totally unrepresented in this agenda when we should be dominating it.” But ASC’s interim head of research and best practice Jemma Basham defended the survey, emphasising that its criteria are based on a government report by Sir John Egan. Basham said: “In our bid to increase generic skills — communication, project management, partnership working and leadership — among professionals working within the sustainable communities sector, we focus on balancing diverse and sometimes competing agendas. The online skills survey is open to anyone working within the sector and forms only one part of the national skills gap research currently being undertaken by ASC.” Egan’s review defined seven components that constitute a sustainable community — such as transport and connectivity, well-designed buildings, social and cultural services, governance and diverse local economies.

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