Horticulture industry could be worth 50% more if skills gap is filled

The Ornamental Horticulture Round Table is scoping the skills required and potential size of the industry if vacancies are filled and opportunities are taken.

The Ornamental Round Table survey results on future skills needs within UK ornamental horticulture will show potential training, demographic, age and resource gaps.

Pye Tait Consulting has now completed a telephone survey of 1,000 businesses across the industry and the results will help inform a skills strategy and equip the sector with data for lobbying Government, making requests for funding, and informing the migratory advisory committee about employment needs. 

The skills research report is likely to launch after the autumn.

The survey was is co-funded by AHDB Horticulture, Royal Horticultural Society, Arboriculture Association, British Association of Landscape Industries, Chartered institute of Horticulture and Land Based Colleges Aspiring to Excellence following a need identified by the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group.

Horticulture supported 568,700 jobs in 2017 and had a value of £24.2bn according to 2018's Round Table-commissioned Oxford Economics report.

Recommendations included to 

  • Create opportunities for the industry to scale up UK production in light of Brexit
  • Nurture innovation funding in horticultural science for environmental resilience and health benefits
  • Support the development of a skills roadmap, to ensure a pipeline of talent to meet current and future workforce needs.

The next stage of the Oxford Economic Report is about the future of horticulture and landscaping.

BALI chief executive Wayne Grills said this report would find out what size the industry would be if it had everything in place from the Oxford Econmics report recommendations and the skills review.

He said the skills report is likely to "throw up some interesting things and a lot of things we already knew, with some parts not as bad as others". 

Grills said on the potential size of industry that some landscapers members could almost double turnover, potentially meaning an industry turnover of  £30bn-£35bn.

He added: "But we just don't know until we scope it out and do the work. There's lots of ifs. We've got to see what Brexit throws up. It could be positive or negative effect - who knows."

Commercial work is slowing down but domestic is booming and product suppliers are doing well too.There is now more good quality work in northern cities as well.

The reports are expected to be launched after the annual All-Party Gardening and Horticulture Group reception in Parliament (the first report was launched that the event in 2018), which is usually held in October. The reception has been delayed and will be held later this year at a date to be decided because of the prorogation of Parliament, which lasts until 14 October.

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