Lovania Nurseries latest grower to take on young apprentices

Nursery links up with Myerscough College to operate apprenticeship scheme for young staffers.

Lovania Nurseries has taken on two apprentices who are working as part of the growing team.

The nursery, based near Preston, is working with nearby Myerscough College to run the scheme. The apprentices, Alex Butowska and Danny Booth, are working on a range of tasks including watering and checking plants for pests and diseases.

Lovania Nurseries nursery manager Peter Booth said: "It's commonly acknowledged that there is a lack of young people coming into our industry, so we decided to take on young people with a view to training them to develop a professional career in horticulture.

"We're working with Myerscough College, which is where the apprentices are doing their NVQ2 qualifications in commercial horticulture. It's all done in-house and the college comes in when necessary.

"They're working out on the nursery with the rest of the growers and the aim is to give them a full understanding of commercial horticulture. It will also broaden their horizons outside the nursery. This is the first time Lovania has had a proper apprenticeship scheme. If it works, we will role it out again in future."

He added that schemes like this are essential for the industry. "There are always jobs for growers. Businesses have got bigger and the way everything operates has changed. It's a whole new learning process. There are not a lot of youngsters doing it and hopefully by doing this we can get a few more growers."

The apprentices are paid the proper agricultural rate. "The thinking was that they're doing a proper job and they need a proper wage," said Peter Booth.

Butowska, who moved to England from Latvia two-and-a-half years ago, worked on the nursery before she started the apprenticeship scheme. "I worked here on production before and I wanted to have more influence on the products we make. If they let me, I would like to stay for a few years."

Apprentice Danny Booth said he is involved in a wide range of tasks around the nursery. "I've had a hand in everything - watering bedding, spraying, on the line helping with production, picking up orders for despatch," he added. "I've had an interest in the industry from a young age and I wanted to start a career with a future."

Horticultural apprenticeships National and international interest

Myerscough College horticultural assessor Anna Brown said the apprenticeship scheme run by the college is being looked at nationally and internationally.

"It's totally work-based apart from two short courses at the college," she added. "It relies on the employer a lot, but we can help identify areas that need more input. Our main role is assessing the knowledge of the apprentices."

She said there are not many apprentices in production. "We are doing a lot of work getting nurseries onside and we have plans to work with the HTA. A lot of them are talking about a generational gap."

Other local businesses with which the college is working are lettuce grower Seven Oaks Salads, which has one apprentice, and lawn care company Green Thumb, in Knowsley on Merseyside, which has eight apprentices in horticulture and two in business and administration.

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