Get in touch with students

Guy Moreton discusses the problem of finding well-qualified staff members and recommends a solution.

These days I seem to do nothing but moan about the issue of recruitment of high-calibre management candidates to our industry and the struggle that we are all going to face in the coming years in attracting and retaining talented individuals.

We seem to have been talking about the problem for years and years, yet we don't seem to be getting more optimistic as time rolls on - in fact, according to the HTA and a large number of other horticultural organisations, the problem actually seems to be getting worse.

Only last week, I watched a news item on television about the IT industry's united attempts to show school leavers the career opportunities that exist in that sector. I also read with interest a food industry report that investigated the shortfall of graduate entrants to that market. The report, which was heavily featured in the food-industry press, encouraged all food businesses to do everything they could to make both themselves and the sector more attractive to potential recruits.

Adequately qualified people are in short supply and reports like these alarm me even more when I think about the potential problems that lie ahead for our industry. Now, I don't want to use this column to continually hark on about the image of horticulture or how potential new recruits or the wider public at large perceives us, but as we move into 2008 I would just ask for you to make, and keep, at least one new year's resolution. And that would be for each business, however big or small, to contact its local school (or schools, even) and invite pupils to visit or offer yourself, or one of your staff, to visit them as an outside speaker.

The children will love the experience and the opportunity to see, hear and feel the things that our fabulous industry has to offer. I'm sure some will be inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit that exists within the trade and surprised by the huge range of businesses and career choices that horticulture can offer.

- Guy Moreton is director of More People.

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