Garden centre sector lacks skills training options finds Ornamental Round Table report

A new Oxford Economics report commissioned by the Ornamentals Round Table has found the garden centre sector faces a number of difficulties in accessing external training - including the release of staff, lack of training availability and cost.

The £1.9bn annual turnover garden retail sector includes 2,000 businesses and 48,700 workers, 88% of whom are UK residents.

Garden centres said they were too busy to release staff for training in 43% of cases. On-site training made up 58% or overall training.

There was a low average number of apprentices per business (0.5) and a low interest in apprenticeships in the sector. Skills shortages and availability of labour are in top three of future drivers of change.

The relatively low average number of apprentices in the sector and the cited perception of the low quality of apprentices in terms of behaviour and skills indicate that talent pipelines into the sector need to be improved, the report said.

The survey indicates that the average number of apprentices in a business will only slightly increase from 0.5 to 0.6 over the next three years.This also suggests that employers may need help with understanding the apprentice model and the benefits to their business.

The high use of in-house training and the lack of awareness of resources are additional indications (in addition to low apprenticeship applicant numbers) of a low take-up of new initiatives like Apprenticeship trailblazers.

Some 22% of businesses anticipated increases in staff numbers over the next two years.  

Staff turnover (vacancies only) is 27% over the last three years.

Some 77% of garden retail workers are employed in small/micro businesses and 7% in large companies with more than 100 workers. Some 55% are full-time and 8% are seasonal workers.  General workers make up 54% of staff, with 13% managers, which is expected to increase by 8%. The average age of workers (41.5 years) is on a par with the UK average (41.5 years). 

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