Horticulture industry ‘needs more skilled workers’

Many Brits love getting to work outdoors with the garden tools – particularly at this time of year, when winter is firmly behind us and temperatures are rising for the summer. 

Despite this, the nation's horticulture industry is currently faced with a wide range of challenges – not least of which is the growing skills gap. 

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has carried out a report, which found that more than 70 per cent of businesses operating in the sector cannot find recruits who have the relevant skills to fill any vacancies. 

Almost 20 per cent of respondents added that they have no choice but to recruit from overseas – and this comes at a time when unemployment is on the rise in the UK. 

Slightly fewer than 70 per cent of surveyed firms underlined the fact that new career entrants are not adequately prepared for the kind of work they will be undertaking in their profession. 

The RHS report – which is entitled Horticulture Matters – was presented to the government earlier in the week (May 14th). 

Its announcement was timed so it would be unveiled ahead of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which is due to commence on May 21st, running for five days. 

Director-general of the RHS Sue Biggs, who is spearheading the report, said that her gardening charity has brought together some of the country's leading horticultural organisations for the benefit of the study. 

She stated that all of these groups are unanimous in their belief that urgent action is required to prevent an industry-wide crisis. 

Employers and schools in the education system are also called to action, as well as the government, in order to safeguard the UK's horticultural sector for the future. 

"This report isn't an unrealistic wish list of measures," Ms Biggs remarked, adding: "It already includes pledges of investment and commitment from the industry. But if the skills gap is to close, government has to play its part, too."

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