Plan aiming to promote landscaping career path

BALI has approved a comprehensive new plan to get school students on the landscaping career path, using the combined skills of its members. The "GO Landscape" campaign, spearheaded by BALI board directors Nigel Bowcock and David Dodd, is moving forward to pilot stage after it was presented to the board at the end of January.

The campaign has two aims: to steer youngsters into landscape early in their school careers and to engage with colleges to ensure that they are teaching the right skills.

GO Landscape will first be piloted south of the Thames. BALI members are being approached to volunteer for the pilot programme, covering the four key landscape areas of commercial, domestic, grounds maintenance and design.

Volunteering BALI members will be trained in how to promote landscape to students and their parents at school careers days, framing it as a "fun, rewarding and prestigious industry" that offers a wide range of strong, well-paid career prospects for people of all abilities.

Students choosing their non-compulsory GCSE or standard grade subjects will be targeted, as well as older students doing their A-levels. BALI members will guide them towards useful subject choices, from geography to graphic design, that could provide a good grounding for studying landscape in college. They will be backed up with display material, promotional literature and a standalone GO Landscape website.

Dodd and Bowcock also plan to survey employers on where skills shortages lie and what would make graduates more employable, as the first step in organising a conference between employers and colleges. Eventually colleges will be able to achieve "BALI centre of excellence" status if they meet a certain standard. The initiative is being offered as the industry's chance to step up and help colleges rather than simply offering criticism.

The plans have met with an enthusiastic response from BALI board members, including garden designer Janine Pattison who has also called for a forum where colleges can hear directly from employers in the garden design sector.

Dodd said he is aiming for a September 2016 launch, with an expectation that the fruits of the campaign would start to show in around three years. The first students being targeted would attend college in 2017-18 and then be looking for jobs in 2020-21.

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