College head looks at fresh ways to tackle skills dearth

Academics lay out hopes for education sector in 2006

Horticulture academics have spoken out about their hopes for the education sector in 2006. New Bishop Burton College’s new head of horticulture Kevin Wheatley plans to address the skills shortage, which he says will have a “visible impact on public gardens, parks and amenities” unless young people are attracted into horticulture. He said: “We are a nation of gardeners — but we are a nation of mature gardeners. We have to create the next generation.” The college will launch a rolling programme of NVQ courses in February to allow students and employers to take part every two months rather than just in September. Wheatley said the college will also be supporting Lantra’s five-year action plan to promote and develop recruitment and careers in horticulture by visiting schools and workplaces to highlight professional opportunities within the sector. Capel Manor College chief executive Steve Dowbiggin is optimistic about the year ahead for the industry and the college. He said: “More people, especially in London, are realising the economic benefit of green spaces, which has led to investment in their development.” He said visitor numbers to the college gardens were up in 2005 to more than 100,000, and recruitment is buoyant.

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