Government must help build arb as a career choice, says Arboriculture Association

The recent survey into recruitment and skills in horticulture strengthens the case for more government support in this area, while higher-level apprentices and flexible working can also help address the challenges that businesses face, the Arboricultural Association has said.

Image: Andres Rodriguez (CC BY 2.0)

Its representative said the results of the skills survey, commissioned by the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group of which the association is a member, "are far from the end of the project", adding: "We will now highlight the need for the government to support the growth of careers in the sector," in part through its ongoing involvement with the All-Party Parliamentary Gardening & Horticulture Group.

He explained: "It is vital the industry is supported by policies that foster growth and increase the viability of businesses to support apprentices and attract new skilled entrants."

With fellow Roundtable members the association is looking into a Horticulture Careers portal - a proposal "which will require considerable funding", he said.

As to the low overall quality, and hence low number, of arboricultural  apprentices identified in the skills survey, he said: "It's clear that more information needs to be made available to help employers understand the apprenticeship model and how it benefits them."

He added on this: "The trailblazer apprenticeship standard is still relatively new and in the coming years employers will start to see more benefits from its introduction."

And with the survey showing technical and professional vacancies to be the hardest to fill, "this reiterates the need for the introduction of the proposed Higher Level (Level 4 and Level 6) arboriculture apprenticeships, which the AA, ICF and other partners are collaborating on."

As to the survey's suggestion of more "atypical" or flexible working patterns, "This is something which must now be considered by employers in all sectors, particularly the more competitive ones," he said.

"Employers are increasingly having to modify the options they offer to attract a good pool of candidates - indeed the AA itself introduced flexible working arrangements for staff in 2019."

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