Nursery takes new tack to fill industry skills gap

Hortus Loci co-owner Mark Straver has advocated employing young staff and using the skills of part-time female workers to fill the industry skills gap.

Chelsea plant managers: helping with sales and service
Chelsea plant managers: helping with sales and service

The Hampshire-based nursery has three RHS Chelsea Flower Show plant managers who are all under 30, who Straver said are helping sales and service in the high-profile department - general manager Michael Buck, YoungHort alumni Jamie Butterworth and Spaniard Pedro Mayor.

Straver said joint show plant manager Mayer, for instance, has "an incredible sensitivity and innate feeling for plants that is very rare in young people in the industry".

The department makes up 15-20 per cent of turnover at the four-year-old company, which has some 25 staff.

"One of the biggest difficulties with a new business is putting a team together where everyone will work well with each other and slot into the right place," said Straver. Suitable staff who love plants are "difficult to find", he added.

He said one problem with horticulture is that it is seasonal work and not everyone is going to be able to be kept on all year. Employing women with children part-time works for both parties, he added, and many are over qualified.

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