Lecturer says courses must change to meet employer needs

Training must match the needs of horticulture, garden retail and landscape employers more closely, according to a course leader who wants to launch an industry forum.

Barrie Duesbury said students were leaving college ill-equipped for life in the business world and needed "bolt-on" modules.

The horticulture course manager at Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA) recently hosted a BALI and turf supplier Q Lawn presentation day to help graduating students.

"I want to bring together our college and industry to build courses around what the industry wants," he said. "Employers say they do not want brickwork skills but people who know about maintenance and plants. We must give them that."

He added that bolt-on courses could include those in being on site, handling machinery, first aid, spraying and chainsaws.

Duesbury proposed starting a forum for colleges and businesses to help shape training. He recently spoke with Hillier director Richard Barnard, who said he wanted career starters with health and safety, first aid and competence certificates.

"Employers seem to be saying the same thing but not to the colleges," said Duesbury. "When I go to garden centres, basic skills are not evident. Meanwhile some retailers, like Wyevale, have training but it's not recognised."

- For further details, see www.bca.ac.uk/video/video.htm

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