Study reveals 18 per cent drop in student numbers in land-based courses

A decline in student numbers and course provision in the horticulture sector gives the industry a wake-up call

The extent of the skills crisis has been revealed by a review that has found land-based course uptake to be down by 18 per cent in London. The Learning & Skills Council (LSC) discovered that in the past three years the number of learners wanting London land-based and related green provision fell by 475. College leaders blamed poor completion rates, funding and horticulture’s poor image. LSC executive director Philippa Langton announced the “rather dismal” findings at the second green sector, who met at the RHS to discuss skills problems in the sector. She said: “It’s a miserable picture. We need to develop green skills so we can improve the potential of London’s green and open spaces.” Capel Manor College principal Steve Dowbiggin said it was important that the RHS was taking the lead on the subject. He said that Langton’s involvement showed the LSC was “looking seriously” at what horticulture does and how to fund it. The Green Skills steering group will meet DEFRA secretary of state Margaret Beckett on 19 April to discuss concerns and plans. London Olympics Olympic 2012 plans are under threat after the London Land-based and Related Green Skills Review found the lack of people enrolling on land-based courses means the “significant increase in demand” in the following areas may not be met: * landscaping skills and the maintenance of sports and amenity turf * plants, material and qualified staff in soft landscape creation and management * green tourism facilities * environmental protection and conservation * environmental and community initiatives

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