11,000 new employees needed

The gardening world gathered in April at the RHS Horticultural Halls, in London, to take the first steps to solve a serious problem; the current perception of gardening as a career. A recent RHS survey found 75 percent of under-18s think it’s a career for dropouts, and 70 percent say it was never recommended to them at school.*
As part of the first National Gardening Week, ‘Horticulture, a Career to be Proud of’, saw key figures in the gardening world, from Kew’s top scientist to the Chelsea Show Manager, give talks to an audience made up of MPs, the media, representatives from the Horticultural and Educational Industries in an effort to change the perceptions of horticulture being an unskilled, second-choice career.
Conference Chair, Alan Titchmarsh, gave a passionate and rousing speech calling on the horticultural industry to reach out to careers advisors in schools and highlight the enormous breadth and variety of careers within the industry. He also called on MPs to start acting now.
Alan said: “One in five young people are now out of work, and 100,000 more people are expected to be added to the current unemployment figures this summer. Our industry will need 11,000 new employees over the next decade, within this I include journalists, writers, broadcasters, garden centre workers, garden designers, arboriculturists, growers, marketing and PR executives, buyers, sellers, association workers, green-keepers, conservationists, florists, countryside workers, manufacturers, ground maintainers, charitable workers and local authority workers. All of them, in their own way, ‘gardeners’.”
The RHS survey showed that 75% of under-18s think that horticulture is a career for people who have failed academically. 50% of 25 year olds think it is an unskilled career, and 70% said horticulture was never recommended to them at school. There is an urgent need for this to change.
Alan said that part of the problem is the way gardening is perceived: “Gardening is ingrained in the human psyche as an occupation that needs stamina and tenacity but not necessarily intelligence. Horticulture as a career has an image problem of considerable proportions.”

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