Fewer than 1 in 5 greenkeepers are under 30

By Alistair December 16, 2019 11:19

The number of young people embarking on a career in groundsmanship is in decline, according to new research by the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG).

The figures also find that over 40 per cent of the UK’s workforce is over the age 50 – with 20 per cent of them set to retire within five years – and that investment is urgently needed in adequate training and education to allow for increased demand for sports participation now and in the future.

According to the findings of the IOG’s industry-wide survey Groundsmanship – Sports Vital Profession, the UK sports turf groundscare sector employs more than 26,000 people, is supported by at least 37,000 volunteers and is worth more than £1 billion a year to the economy. But the research also highlights areas of concern that, if not addressed, are a ticking time bomb for the industry.

“Less than one in five groundscare staff are below the age of 30 and some employers are choosing not to replace staff when an existing member leaves or retires”, says the IOG’s chief executive Geoff Webb.

“The time bomb issue doesn’t just apply to professionals. Our research identified that over two thirds of community grounds volunteers are over 60 and almost all are over 50.”

Geoff Webb

These are just some of the revelations from the IOG’s research which also reveals that the turf industry (in England and Wales alone) plays a significant role in the economy with:

  • A direct staffing paybill of around £588 million plus the volunteers’ in-kind paybill of more than £120 million;
  • An operating budget of around £478 million; and
  • A capital expenditure of around £600 million over the past five years.

Conducted by Myriad Consulting and Doran Consultancy, the survey involved desktop research (including Sport England’s Active Places database and information from sports’ national governing bodies), in addition to an online survey and one-to-one interviews across sports. It involved grounds staff and greenkeepers (professionals and volunteers) at all levels.

“The report highlights how recruitment, especially of young people, is a critical issue and it is clear that everyone in the industry must also do more to ensure we have a ‘pipeline’ of competent staff to meet demands at every level,” added Webb.

“These are just some of the subjects raised by the survey – not forgetting the issues of diversity and pay discrepancy voiced by some respondents, as well as concerns over climate change and water management – that the industry as a whole needs to address if we are to continue to produce grounds people and playing surfaces that are the envy of the world.”


By Alistair December 16, 2019 11:19

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