Horticulture Week Podcast: tackling recruitment challenges - how Countrywide Grounds Maintenance is investing in local communities to help reduce the skills gap

Countrywide Grounds Maintenance's managing director Paul McKeown has worked in horticulture his entire working life, eschewing the shipyards of his native North East to enter the industry straight from school.

He speaks about Countrywide's journey so far, how the business fared through Covid-19 and goals for the future - as well as about his love of geraniums and Sunderland FC!

With a strong desire to give back to the 46 local communities where the firm has a presence, McKeown outlines Countrywide’s new structure – 'community first' - which looks to train and recruit local talent:

"Our aim ...is to have an apprentice on every contract that we maintain", he says.

McKeown discusses the wider challenges of recruitment facing the industry and the importance of increasing diversity as well as initiatives such as working with ex-offenders. 

Looking ahead, McKeown sees plenty of opportunities for extending business through supply of winter grounds maintenance, Christmas trees, hanging baskets and interior plants as well as making the switch to electric machinery.

Presenter: Horticulture Week editor Matthew Appleby
Producer: Horticulture Week digital content manager Christina Taylor

Make sure you never miss a Horticulture Week podcast! Subscribe to or Follow Horticulture Week podcasts via Apple PodcastsSpotify or Google Podcasts or your preferred podcast platform. 

If you are interested in producing a podcast with Horticulture Week, contact matthew.appleby@haymarket.com. 

Listener feedback - please email hortweek@haymarket.com with "Podcast" at the beginning of the subject line.

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