HTA Contact: experts express fear over skills shortage

The focus of this year?s HTA Contact conference was on skill shortages, with many experts expressing concern over the garden industry?s future staff.

Wayne Eady, of plant supplier R Delamore, told the HTA Contact 2015 conference, ?If we don?t address this problem now, we won?t have an industry in 10 years.?

Indeed, More People?s Guy Moreton not only voiced his concerns about the current skills shortage in the garden industry, but added that he is profoundly worried about where the next generation of growers will come from. Moreton?s offered solution to garden industry organisations was to have a five-year people plan, as well as a regular business plan. He explained that as businesses grow they need to know what skills and people will be needed, and which key people will need replacing as staff retires or moves on.

Caroline Jones, however, had another solution; improving skills through apprentices and work-placed learning. The government offers ?1500 to companies to have up to five learners at a time, and staff gain the opportunity to learn skills while they earn.

Jones noted the example of Pershore College, who have been working with nursery members of Midland Regional Growers (MRG) to facilitate their apprentice scheme. According to Jones, the college provide block of training in quieter periods of the year as day release isn?t practical during peak times.


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