Sector told to invest in skills to grab Olympic opportunity

Industry should be doing more to ensure local people benefit from horticulture training for Olympics.

Canary Wharf’s strategic adviser Howard Dawber has called on horticulture employers to invest more in skills to secure the 2012 Olympic Games’ horticultural legacy. Dawber made his call after learning that London mayor Ken Livingstone is funding several horticultural training courses to help local people get involved in the Games. The courses will be run by charities such as Groundwork West London and Centrepoint as part of an £11m skills grant to create a community legacy from the Games. Dawber, who also sits on the not-for-profit group Legacy 2020 — set up last year to help promote the legacy of the Games — said it should be up to the horticulture industry itself and not the mayor to create such a legacy. He said: “I don’t think it’s down to Ken Livingstone to try to second-guess what the opportunities for the industry are. “The industry needs to be doing more. The park is a fantastic opportunity to get local people involved in horticulture. It should be used for training and inspiration but it’s down to people in the industry to come up with this themselves. We still have to work out the long-term horticultural legacy of the Games.” He added: “The opportunity is there for the industry to grab it.” Lantra green skills representative and member of the Skills for Business London 2012 Infrastructure & Facilities Cluster Group Jonathan Pettit said that horticulture has been on a backburner. He said: “The industry has been immensely successful in engaging with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and putting the green agenda forward. “But it’s been quiet for the past 12 months. The challenge is that, compared with sectors like construction, catering and health, there are not huge numbers of people employed in horticulture. “But it is indeed starting to hot up again, especially on the back of this week’s industry day.” The ODA was due to hold its landscape industry day for prospective contractors at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew yesterday (Wednesday). The Skills for Business Cluster Group is also due to meet again this week, to kick start a training plan for horticulture. Pettit said: “Commitment to training and involving local people will form an important part of any landscaping contract. “We have been working hard to inform the ODA and the London Development Agency that some planting needs to happen as soon as possible, and by that we mean autumn. If you don’t have the plantings you do not have the legacy.”

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