Web portal will aim to promote horticulture to schoolchildren

The way horticulture is presented as a career option to schoolchildren is to be transformed after 13 industry bodies agreed to create an innovative web portal designed to solve the industry’s recruitment crisis.

GreenSkills careers marketing initiative group organiser Leigh Morris told delegates at the Green Skills Seminar at RHS Horticultural Halls this week that £56,000 raised from 13 organisations will pay to develop marketing material and a web portal to promote horticulture to young people, teachers and careers officers. Morris said he wanted to promote sport, science, arts, commerce and technology jobs on the front page of the as-yet-unnamed website, which then link to specific horticulture jobs. The bulk of the site will consist of teaching materials and information on horticultural sectors, written by the bodies involved. Morris added that children did not see “saving the planet” as a reason to become horticulturists but it was still something the horticulture industry should push as part of its offer. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh head of education Morris said: “The big thing is to make this sustainable. We want to get more people on board who can contribute financially or with time or to the website.” Horticulture colleges will pay a subscription of a few hundred pounds to sustain the site and Morris is looking for commercial sponsorship and further organisations to join the group. The IoH pledged £5,000 last week, while the National Proficiency Tests Council, Society of Chemical Industry and Institute of Sport, Parks & Leisure are interested. The web portal was created after E3 marketing director Sarah Dalzell presented findings showing horticulture’s profile among young people is almost non-existent. HTA consultant David Brown said: “We’re supportive of the idea. It’s going to be key if we’re going to attract people of all abilities to the industry. That is going to be the real difficult job — making the information sufficiently attractive to all abilities without totally overloading them. In the past we’ve aimed at certain people and by doing that have turned some off. It’s about getting the right information to careers advisers.”

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