Backing horticulture skills

With UK horticulture about to get its biggest publicity boost of the year thanks to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, there can be no better time to celebrate the incredibly diverse career opportunities open to those entering the industry.

Our annual Careers In Horticulture supplement, (see online here), offers an insight into a selection of those opportunities - together with tips from employers and notes on the various qualification routes available. More details, including a course finder, can be found at the industry's careers website, GrowCareers.info, hosted by HW.

It won't, of course, be any surprise to anyone that the skills shortage dominates the pages of the supplement. As leading landscaper Mark Gregory tells us, all of his competitors agree the landscape sector is suffering from a massive skills shortage: "We are finding it harder to get good trained people". Over the page, another sector and another plea for skilled recruits as English Heritage head of gardens John Watkins tells us: "We desperately need more people in the historic and botanic gardens sector."

It is therefore good also to be able to report on an RHS-led initiative to bring the skills crisis to the attention of politicians through the Horticulture Matters report that will be presented at Westminster next week.

This intervention from industry leaders cannot come a moment too soon as the fallout from the education department's disastrous decision to drop land-based qualifications from school performance league tables grows .

If rural schools are forced to drop land-based qualifications from their offering as a result of this latest policy car crash, a vital and highly valued entry route for this young age group into the world of horticulture will be lost for good.

kate.lowe@haymarket.com.


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