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Outdoor Industry Reveals Findings of Workforce Assessment Survey

August 3, 2022

BOULDER, CO (August 3, 2022)/OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – Today, the Outdoor Industry Association and Outdoor Recreation Roundtable released results from a recent survey, the “Outdoor Industry Workforce Assessment,” which was conducted by Oregon State University’s Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy with input and support from Basecamp Outdoor, Path to Peak Education + Consulting, and the Confluence of States. Financial support for the development and execution of this survey was provided by a grant from The VF Foundation. The survey looks to identify major trends in workforce hiring and retention, help further educational and up-skilling initiatives, and provide a snapshot of where the industry stands in its efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion. Key findings from the survey include the following:

· New hires: The industry expects to hire for a high volume of entry and skilled professional positions over the next year.

· Work/life balance: Outdoor companies are prioritizing flexible work arrangements and work-life balance as attraction and retention strategies ahead of employee benefits and financial rewards.

· Qualified applicants: 66% of survey respondents report having difficulty finding qualified applicants. The largest barriers to recruiting hard-to-fill jobs are finding qualified applicants, and lack of affordable housing options proximal to the job location.

· Increasing DEI: Companies who have a diversity plan in place are utilizing a wide variety of methods and tactics to achieve their goals. However, companies that do not currently have a diversity plan in place largely do not plan to implement one or do not know where to start.

“This survey is the product of a clear and collective desire within the outdoor recreation industry to better understand its workforce development challenges and opportunities. Moreover, the organizations in the outdoor recreation economy want to better understand the links between talent attraction and employee retention and the industry’s work around diversity, equity and inclusion.” said Lee Davis, Executive Director of Oregon State University’s Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy. “As the hiring landscape continues to shift, we know that workforce issues are front of mind for many outdoor organizations and we hope this data serves as a valuable jumping off point for companies and the broader industry to think strategically about how to build a future workforce that represents all outdoor enthusiasts.”

“The VF Foundation is committed to fostering inclusivity in the outdoors”, said Gloria Schoch, Executive Director of The VF Foundation & Sr. Director of Global Impact at VF Corporation. “An important step to make meaningful progress towards this vision is ensuring greater collective awareness and understanding of where the outdoor industry stands today in building a diverse talent pipeline of tomorrow. Our hope is that the survey findings inform and empower stakeholders to help address and take action on opportunity gaps identified in the report.”

“These survey results provide key insights into current outdoor workforce trends and show clear areas of opportunity for the industry as a whole and for individual organizations,” said Kelly Davis, Research Director of Outdoor Industry Association. “it is encouraging to see the survey results indicate that many organizations across the outdoor market are ready to take advantage of opportunities to build a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the outdoor consumer today and far into the future.”

“This report provides an important baseline and for this fast-growing and powerful sector of the economy that supports life-long careers for a wide variety of workers with diverse skillsets all across the country,” said Jessica Turner, President of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “Jobs in the $689 billion outdoor recreation economy are everywhere, and we hope that prospective entrants to the industry and existing companies alike benefit from the report’s takeaways on hiring trends and DEI initiatives to understand where the industry can support growth and opportunities for all in the years ahead.”

Survey results represent a complex cross-section of the outdoor industry. 52% of the respondents are located in urban areas, and 46% are located in rural areas. 87% of organizations are small, with budgets and/or revenue less than $20M.

Access the full report here to view all findings.

About the Outdoor Industry Association

Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry. OIA unites and serves manufacturers, suppliers, sales representatives, and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation, and outdoor participation. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org.

About the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable:

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable is the nation’s leading coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations representing the $689 billion outdoor recreation economy. ORR focuses on the growth of outdoor recreation by building a better environment for the sustainable growth of outdoor recreation businesses and driving a broader understanding of the value of the outdoor recreation economy. Our membership includes national outdoor trade association members, business entities, nonprofit organizations, and universities — serving more than 110,000 businesses and representing America’s boating, fishing, RVing, biking, hiking, camping, hunting, ATVing, diving, horseback, and skiing communities among many more.

About the OSU Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy

The Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy (CORE) at Oregon State University (OSU) demonstrates the University’s commitment to putting knowledge to work to support the greater good by developing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce. Building on more than 150 years as Oregon’s land grant university, OSU serves the state, the nation, and the world as a premier 21st-century, research-intensive public university with impact and accountability. CORE was created after extensive conversations with outdoor industry leaders to address the growing skills gap and challenges in outdoor recreation industry workforce recruiting and retention. Through research, partnerships, and industry-informed technical skills and leadership training programs, CORE is dedicated to meeting the needs of the industry while helping people from all backgrounds get new and better jobs in the outdoor recreation economy.

About The VF Foundation

The VF Foundation is the private grantmaking organization funded by VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies with iconic brands including Vans®, The North Face®, Timberland®, Smartwool®, JanSport® and Dickies®. With its partners, The VF Foundation strives to innovate and problem-solve in collaborative ways to drive transformative, lasting change with the vision of creating a more equitable and sustainable world. Established in 2002, the Foundation has granted nearly $60 million globally to meaningfully improve the communities where VF operates. It’s committed to driving movements for the betterment of people and the planet across its key strategic pillars: championing Worthy Work, embracing Outside Matters, empowering creativity and self-expression as we are Free to Be, and supporting Disaster Relief and Recovery. Learn more at The VF Foundation :: VF Corporation (VFC).