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Forest Research home > Research > People, trees and woodlands > Society and diversity in relation to trees, woods and forests

Social diversity and employment in the forestry profession

Summary

Wyre Forest School. Apprentice trainingIT Office staff

Roles available in forest industries and the forestry profession

Traditionally, employment in forest industries or the forestry profession has been perceived as a practical, outdoors, and physical role.  Whilst one part of the forestry sector continues to manage trees and process timber, the contemporary forestry profession is far broader in scope and the variety of roles on offer. 

Jobs in forestry today include the development of policy, the management of grants and regulations, sales and retail, public education, teaching and lifelong learning, resource planning, development planning, science and research, civil engineering, and  partnership brokerage as well as support roles in administration, finance, marketing, design and business development.

This is particularly true within the Forestry Commission where the variety of roles on offer has increased as the functions of the Commission have grown to include many more social and public benefit objectives than in the past.  Changes in role type means that there are changes to the knowledge and skills required, and thus to the kinds of employees able and encouraged to enter the forestry profession.

Socio-economic profile of the Forestry Commission’s workforce

National legislation such as the Equality Act 2006 has placed duties on public bodies to ensure they actively promote equality of access to the services, functions and goods they provide as well as to promoting equality in the workforce.  At the time of writing (2009-2010) the demographic profile of the Forestry Commission staff using some social measures, is not representative of UK society as a whole.  It is particularly noticeable that there are few employees from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. 

The factors which contribute to the socio-economic profile of the Commission’s workforce are complex and ways to change this situation present a significant challenge.

Research objectives

The specific objectives of this research were to explore these issues by:

  • Using a social marketing approach to research and increase understanding of how best to increase the number of BAME employees in the Forestry Commission
  • Identifying opportunities and barriers for BAME individuals applying for jobs with the Forestry Commission
  • Recommending ways that recruitment practice could be improved to attract more applications from BAME people.

Research approach

The research was undertaken as a social marketing scoping study. 

Telephone interviews were conducted with representatives of public organisations and agencies that had managed to increase the numbers of BAME employees, or worked around BAME employment advocacy.

Six focus group discussions were held with people from the four main BAME categories defined in the UK national census, including individuals at early and mid-career stages.  Discussion group participants were drawn from the population living close to the Forestry Commission office in north east Bristol.

Data collectedNumber of people
Interviews with experts and key informants outside of the Forestry Commission 10
Discussion groups with individuals from BAME backgrounds 44
Total 54

Key findings

  • In general “the environment” is an unpopular sector amongst BAME individuals building their careers or seeking employment. Science, engineering and technology (SET), finance, medicine, law and social care continue to draw larger numbers of people from BAME backgrounds.
  • The wide range of roles on offer in the Forestry Commission, including those connected with SET and finance were not recognised. 
  • The Commission was perceived to be an organisation linked with strong environmental values and a nature conservation culture. 
  • Certain aspects of the Forestry Commission prospectus were particularly attractive.  These included: civil service terms and conditions; the provision of training; possibilities for flexible working; and diversity in the roles on offer.  
  • For BAME individuals to respond to job adverts, they need first to recognise, know and understand the Forestry Commission as an organisation and the values it stands for. 
  • Approaches to recruitment should use ‘community outreach’ methods to increase knowledge of the Commission and what it does amongst BAME populations, as well as target the mainstream media used by BAME people when placing advertisements for job vacancies within the Commission.

Report and summaries

Forestry Commission’s diversity and equality policies

The Forestry Commission is committed to promoting equality to the users of its goods and resources, its services and public functions, as well as amongst its employees:

Funders and partners

Forest Research logo Forestry Commission logo
This work was completed by Forest Research for the Forestry Commission.

Strategic Social Marketing logo
Support and guidance in the formulation and analysis of the research was provided by Prof. Jeff French, Strategic Social Marketing.

 

Status

This project was completed winter 2009.

Contacts

Bianca Ambrose-Oji

and

The Diversity Manager
The Forestry Commission
Silvan House
231 Corstorphine Road
EDINBURGH
EH12 7AT
Tel: 0131-314-6531
E-mail: diversity@forestry.gsi.gov.uk