Written by Fletching Glasshouses' Dr Alan Rae with funds from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), it identifies examples of best practice that can be shared between growers in a bid to tackle the growing skills crisis.
Growers are advised to adopt good HR practices, citing Leckford's Justin Coleman, who saw staff turnover fall from 60 to two per cent per annum after introducing a better induction process with monitoring of precisely-set objectives.
It also advises production firms to be innovative in looking for new blood and be willing to train up non-horticulture graduates who have a numerate or technical bent.
Growers must also interact more with local schools as well as recognise "that we will have to organise our own training".
Lowaters' annualised hours scheme is just one of a number of examples of firms cited in the guide that have found ways to employ a core team throughout the year. Other solutions include growing new crops, diversifying or growing in different locations.
Meanwhile, Humber VHB's labour bank has helped it build a pool of local people from which it can draw when needed who identify with the firm and understand its processes.
Training initiatives identified that are starting to plug the gap in provision include a one-year nursery manager diploma offered by Plumpton College that can be delivered on-site in half-day instalments. Hadlow College has now scoped a production horticulture module.
Finally, Hillier Nurseries has successfully established a strong relationship with a local school through which it is due to recruit an apprentice.
- See leader, p18. The guide is available at www.growingjobs.org
PRINCIPLES OF GOOD PRACTICE
- Adopt basic HR good practice.
- Aim to keep your core team employed throughout the year.
- Find ways to make peak resourcing easier.
- Be innovative in looking for new blood.
- Recognise that you will have to organise your own training.
- Recognise that you have to promote your industry.
- Adopt high-performance HR practices.
Source: Growing Jobs, Dr Alan Rae, Fletching Glasshouses/SEEDA.