April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 18

RESEARCH
Workforce Development Helps Prepare
Future Park and Recreation Leaders
By Melissa May

F

air and just access to high-quality parks and green spaces, recreation facilities, youth sports, and programs promotes healthy,
resilient and economically vibrant communities. The success of
these areas and services are a direct result of the tireless efforts
of hundreds of thousands of park and recreation professionals and volunteers. These individuals, who come from myriad backgrounds and experiences, are important for the future of parks and recreation.
Park and recreation agencies must
be intentional in building and retaining a diverse workforce that will
lead the field into the future. Having
a staff that reflects the communities they serve is critical in ensuring agency services, programs and
amenities meet the public's needs
and desires. One way to do this is by
exposing young people to the many
career options in the field.
The latest NRPA research report,
Workforce Development and Career
Exploration at Parks and Recreation
(nrpa.org/WorkforceDevelopment
Report), looks at programs that connect youth and young adults to the
possibilities of a park and recreation
career. These programs take many
forms, ranging from entry-level
jobs or internships to specialized
skilled-based training programs.
Workforce development and career
exploration programs expose youth
and young adults to a wide variety
of occupations within the field,
such as recreation programming,
natural resource management,
planning, operations and public
safety. Program participants gain
valuable work experience, build selfconfidence, develop foundational
skills and learn how rewarding a
park and recreation career can be.

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Parks & Recreation

Three in 10 park and recreation
agencies currently offer a workforce
development and/or career exploration program that targets teenagers, young adults and other people
entering the labor force for the first
time. Fifty-six percent of survey respondents from urban agencies report having one of these programs.
Park and recreation leaders view
workforce development and career
exploration programs as a key method to developing future professionals and leaders in the field. Many
young adults have their first-ever job
at a local park and recreation agency,
providing not only a chance to earn
money, but also a place where they
can build self-confidence and gain
valuable work experience. Forty-two
percent of these leaders indicate
that a critical goal of their agencies'
workforce development and career
exploration programs is to recruit a
more diverse agency staff.
Partnerships are essential to the
success of many park and recreation
workforce development and career
exploration programs. Partners assist
in recruiting participants, providing
mentoring services, and providing
financial and logistic support. Eightyeight percent of park and recreation
agencies partner with one or more

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organizations (e.g., nonprofit organizations, local school systems, other
non-school local government departments) to implement these programs.
Agency locale plays a large role in
determining the type of workforce development partnership. Non-school
local government departments are
more common partners for urban
agencies (77 percent) than for suburban (49 percent) or rural (36 percent)
agencies. Conversely, an overwhelming majority of rural park and recreation agencies partner with their
local school system (90 percent), well
above the percentage of urban (53
percent) and suburban (54 percent)
agencies that do so.
While the coronavirus (COVID-19)
pandemic has put a strain on workforce development and career exploration programs, sharply reducing the opportunities for youth and
young adults to interact with current
park and recreation professionals,
opportunities do exist and planning
for the future generation continues.
Park and recreation professionals
indicate these programs are likely
to become more common over the
next few years. One in five park and
recreation leaders is looking to establish workforce development and
career exploration programs at their
agencies within the next two years.
Sustainable funding, partnership
development and increased training
will ensure that these programs lead
to an innovative and equitable future
for parks and recreation.
Melissa May is NRPA's Senior Research
Manager (mmay@nrpa.org).


http://www.nrpa.org/WorkforceDevelopmentReport http://www.nrpa.org/WorkforceDevelopmentReport

April 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of April 2021 - Parks & Recreation

April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 1
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April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover4
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com