Industry report reveals skills decline and ethnic imbalance

Concerns have been raised over the decline in skills and a lack of representation of ethnic minorities in the industry.

Industry leaders have uncovered multiple fault-lines in horticulture skills in a landmark report highlighting shortfalls in training, a diminishing workforce and ethnic imbalances. The Learning Skills Council’s (LSC’s) long-awaited review into land-based and related green (LARG) skills in London revealed falling numbers of further-education students. A “limited number” of colleges offered relevant skills. Disabled, black and Asian Londoners were under-represented. Around 34,000 staff and 5,000 groups, including businesses, formed the capital’s skills bedrock. Yet more people were travelling out of London to train at a time when over 5,000 new entrants a year were needed. This was “before the impact of the 2012 Olympics and other factors can be considered”. LSC research manager John McDonald said draining of learners from the capital meant future problems. More “engagement with learners” was needed to tackle ethnic imbalances. Core providers such as Capel Manor College needed to pool best practices, he said. “The importance of the Olympics is its legacy. There’s not much time to develop new initiatives before the bricks are laid for Britain’s biggest urban park for 150 years.” Capel Manor head of college Madeline Hall, part of the review steering group with Lantra and the London Development Agency, said: “The report shows a reduction in funded participation in training, despite an increase in population and demand for skills.”

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