filed under: workforce development


Outdoor-Industry Jobs

A Ground Look at Opportunities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Outdoor Recreation Sectors

This study was intended to assess current—and projected—employment levels across these sectors with a particular focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) oriented occupations that require “mid-level” education and skills. This education includes post-high school training but stops short of a bachelor’s degree,3 opening the door to a greater number of students who are not focused exclusively on four-year degrees. The study was also designed to identify employer demand for occupations within these four sectors.


2018 WA Outdoor Industry Jobs Report


Washington’s Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (Workforce Board) was tasked by the Legislature to conduct a comprehensive study centered on outdoor and field-based employment in Washington, which includes a wide range of jobs in the environment, agriculture, natural resources, and outdoor recreation sectors.

Certainly, outdoor jobs abound in Washington, with our state’s inspiring mountains and beaches, fertile and productive farmland, abundant natural resources, and highly valued natural environment. But the existing data does not provide a full picture of the demand for these jobs, nor the skills required to fill them.

Digging deeper into existing data and surveying employers in these sectors could help pinpoint opportunities for Washington’s young people to enter these sectors and find fulfilling careers.

This study was intended to assess current—and projected—employment levels across these sectors with a particular focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) oriented occupations that require “mid-level” education and skills. This education includes post-high school training but stops short of a bachelor’s degree, opening the door to a greater number of students who are not focused exclusively on four-year degrees. The study was also designed to identify employer demand for occupations within these four sectors.

As required by the legislation, the Workforce Board convened a steering committee representing industry, labor, government, and education-related organizations to guide the work and recommendations put forth in this study (refer to Appendix 1 for steering committee membership). The goal was to produce recommendations and next steps that help provide educators and counselors with detailed data that helps connect Washington students with training for these jobs in the area where they live, including identifying specific skills in demand.

The Workforce Board assessed available state and federal data on current and projected employment levels along with hiring demand for mid-skill workers in these sectors. Research staff also considered data produced by web-crawlers that pull from online job-postings to shed further light on skills and occupational demand across industries.

In addition, the Workforce Board contracted with Washington State University to conduct a series of interviews with 17 employers representing a cross-section of different industries to understand their workforce needs and expectations for growth. Although those findings are not statistically representative of all Washington employers in the selected sectors, the results underscore broader workforce information challenges, as well as the skill-needs and industry trends within those sectors.

Published November 2018

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