Workforce development at the heart of the GMA’s Strategy
The Grounds Management Association (GMA) has, after the impact of the pandemic and following the impact of global events, combined with the cost-of-living crisis, focused on tackling the key issues highlighted by volunteers and professionals as priority areas to address in the grounds care industry.
Published alongside the GMA’s 2022 Workforce Survey, the reset of the GMA’s Five-Year Strategy first launched in 2021, outlines six key priority areas that will inform and influence the association’s work to help achieve three long-term goals:
- To attract new talent and accelerate the growth of a diverse workforce
- To support sustainable business growth and protect the sector’s interests
- To build industry reputation and promote the sector’s contribution to society and the economy
The six strategic priority areas are:
- Workforce development
- People and culture
- Services and support
- Industry representation
- Data and digitisation
- Funding and investment
GMA Chief Executive, Geoff Webb said: “We know the challenges that those working in the grounds care industry face and the findings from our Annual Workforce Survey echo those issues year after year. Whilst we have made progress since revealing the results of “Groundsmanship Sports Vital Profession” in 2019, the trends first identified remain.”
“The issues are far-reaching and to make a positive difference at pace, working together as a sector, we need a shift in mindset and outlook. Working collaboratively is key to success. Members and others working in grounds care, those employing grounds staff, industry partners and suppliers, national governing bodies, professional leagues, the media, local authorities, and the education sector all have a role to play. It’s a team effort.”
The GMA’s latest report estimates that over 3,200 professional grounds managers are due to retire in the next three years and over a third of all grounds professionals are over the age of 55. The lack of young people joining the profession is evident with only 3% being under 25. A clear indication that the industry is facing a recruitment crisis and must act now to attract the next generation.
A lack of diversity also continues to be an issue in grounds management with white men still being the most dominant demographic working in the industry. 96% of professional grounds staff are male and only 3% are non-white, which is far from representative of the communities across the UK.
The report also highlights an issue with underinvestment in grounds management, both in terms of procuring the necessary equipment, and the salary levels paid to grounds staff. The association believes that there is a widespread lack of understanding of what skills, technical expertise, and equipment are required to maintain sports grounds to a satisfactory standard. An issue that will be addressed by proactively promoting the work of grounds people and reiterating the message that with no ground, there’s no game.
GMA Chief Executive, Geoff Webb continues: “When Covid hit, like many, we focused resources on adapting to the ever-changing working environment, moving to remote working and facilitating longstanding face-to-face training and events online. Likewise, many worked with limited capacity and resources during this period, this impacted on many skilled ground staff and impacted on the ability of volunteers to spend the time attending to their clubs and facilities. We have to recognise that we are still in recovery and today are met with fresh challenges such as the cost of living, the impact on the supply chain and recruitment issues.
“We have reset having to contend with a delayed SALTEX which was a fantastic success last Autumn and have spent 2022 reviewing and resetting our strategy as well as building an expanded team. This year has been about getting the right people and resources in place and 2023 will see us move from capability building to implementation as we focus on the strategic priorities and long-term goals outlined in our Strategy.
“This reset of our Strategy puts us on a path to deliver and with the continued support of our Chair and Board, we will continue to invest in building on the six key priority areas identified to meet the needs of members and the wider grounds care sector.”