Garden sector to get 'people' strategy

The HTA has launched a "people-focused" strategy to help the garden industry "in tackling education, training, HR and careers problems".The association said funding cuts and falling interest have led to the gradual decline in the amount and quality of relevant education and training available.

HTA Training & Careers Committee chairman Ian Ashton said: "The industry must find ways of getting people who are trained to meet the demands of this sector."

The HTA is looking for a training and careers manager in a role jointly funded by Lantra to deliver the strategy. Director general David Gwyther said: "The aim is to help the industry get people trained adequately and promote courses from secondary school level up."

He added: "We must look after our industry and not rely on cross-industry initiatives. The have had a poor track record of success.

"A cynic would say there have been initiatives every year for the past 20 years. We're happy to work with the Green Skills Careers Marketing Initiative (GSCMI) (see story below) but the HTA will ensure its side is looked after. Notcutts' new head of retailing will earn 10 times the salary level of a National Trust gardener. The broad garden industry is hard to promote on a single site."

GSCMI organiser Leigh Morris said: "Duplication is a huge worry. But people in their own sectors are doing what is best for their sector."

HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said: "We get lumped in with parks and gardens. We're for commercial horticulture. The GSCMI is another useful tool in getting schools interested."

ELEMENTS OF STRATEGY

- Developing strong education provision with identified centres of excellence

- Engaging sector with schools/colleges

- Presenting garden industry careers to students studying other disciplines

- Working with the Government to recognise "bite-sized" learning that meets demands and attracts funding

- Working with Sector Skills Councils to promote CPD

- Co-ordinating training provision and developing training for sector needs

- Developing web-based resources

- Seminars for HR managers

- Lobbying on Agricultural Wages Board and National Minimum Wage

- Wages surveys

- Guidance on staff recruitment, retention and motivation

- Clear definition of career paths within the sector and how these interface with other industries

- Initiatives to promote garden industry to young people and career changers.


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