TASK Academy, the independent training centre established to help tackle the current skills shortage in the UK’s horticultural sector, is celebrating its first birthday and a highly successful year, which has seen some 200 students take part in over 50 landscaping and horticultural courses.
Located in Worcestershire, the academy is the brainchild of acclaimed, award-winning landscaper Rupert Keys, who has over 30 years’ experience in the industry, having run his own highly successful business, Keyscape Design and Construction. In recent years Rupert has been committed to sharing his knowledge and expertise to help address the industry’s skills gap, by providing practical landscaping courses, delivered by a carefully selected team of inspiring professionals.
Since its launch in September 2022, TASK has achieved several key milestones. The TASK team (pictured above) has doubled in size and has launched an impressive, broad curriculum of 1-3 day courses for students.
The academy has also established key partnerships with ten training and 25 leading industry partners, all of whom are committed to sharing specialist knowledge with students attending the Academy.
TASK is also proud to have received, for a second year, accreditation from LANTRA, the leading provider of training, qualifications and career guidance for land-based industries across the UK and Ireland. TASK’s selection of LANTRA accredited courses achieved an impressive 99% pass rate over the year and the feedback from students has been hugely positive.
Another target achieved by TASK this year has been the introduction of a series of land-based courses for members of the public who want to get hands-on and improve their skills or just try something completely different. The one-day courses, which are held at TASK’s five-acre small holding overlooking Bredon Hill, close to the market town of Pershore, include dry stone walling, garden planting design, paving and even bricklaying.
TASK held a birthday party at the Academy as a thank you to industry partners, trainers, students, friends and family for their passion, enthusiasm, support and commitment. The celebration also saw TASK present their first Student of The Year Award, which was supported by Makita and Ox Tools. The award is an opportunity to highlight excellence shown by apprentices, trainees as well as students of any age. The 2023 winner was Lucy Chapman from Surrey, who following her attendance on a number of TASK courses including the Garden Designers Introduction to Practical Landscaping 3-day course, had shown exceptional skills and attitude which the judges felt went above and beyond what would normally be expected by a student during her studies at TASK.
Commenting on TASK’s first year Rupert Key’s says: “I had a long-held ambition to set up a Centre of Excellence in the heart of England to provide high-quality training for industry professionals. Having worked in the industry most of my life I have witnessed the lack of training available to professionals and I felt empowered to do something to make a positive change.
“It’s been a hugely busy year but the growth and success of TASK has exceeded our expectations and the support and encouragement we have received from the industry has really helped put TASK on the horticultural map! We are really excited about building on this success and to continue to develop and enhance our offering to students over the next year.”
Photo caption TASK Academy Team from left: David Sewell, Lucy Biltcliffe, Johanna Brand, Rupert Keys and Karen Lalegname-Addis