Green careers

Opinion
Later this month employees from Glendale Liverpool will descend upon Liverpool town hall to receive awards for their commitment to Glendale as part of a prestigious event. Paul Cosgrove reports.
Amongst these 150 guests there will be a number of apprentices and pre-apprentices on a one year foundation programme for young people not in education, employment or training (NEET). All of these apprentices and pre-apprentices are under 25.
These young people are making a fantastic contribution to the green services industry. However not enough young people in the UK are looking to our industry for their potential career and this will cause problems for the sector.
The rise in TV programmes featuring gardening and horticulture has no doubt contributed to bringing the industry into public consciousness.
According to a recent article featured in The Telegraph, gardening as a hobby is now more popular than going to the cinema for the majority of 25 to 35 year olds. This report featured figures from a survey commissioned by furniture provider Alfresia and came as 27 year old Hugo Bugg became the youngest gold medal winner at the Chelsea Flower Show for two decades.
Indeed, there’s no doubt that more young people are developing an interest in horticulture. So why isn’t that reflected in the number of people seeking to enter the profession?
There is a distinct lack of awareness of what type of careers are on offer within the green services industry.
Glendale’s apprenticeship programme is second to none and we are extremely pro-active in publicising it. We make sure young people in Liverpool are aware of the opportunities on offer. Is the same being done elsewhere?
This lack of awareness about careers in gardening is leading to some pretty damaging misconceptions. According to the Royal Horticulture Society report ‘Horticulture Matters’ half of under-25s don’t consider gardening to be a skilled career while almost 70per cent of 18 years olds think it’s only a career option if you’ve failed academically.
According to the same study 70per cent of 18 year olds do not think gardening is a career to be proud of and 70per cent of adults surveyed said that the possibility of horticulture as a career was never even mentioned to them when they were younger.
Within the profession we are lacking when it comes to self- promotion. Most gardeners, landscapers, horticulturists and ground managers will go about their work, which the majority of us can hand on heart say we love to do, without feeling the need to draw attention to ourselves or the work we’re doing.
But by doing this we are doing a disservice to our industry. Fresh talent and creativity is what pushes an industry forward and the green services sector is no different. But to be attracting this talent we need to be shouting about the fantastic opportunities on offer.
Our commitment to motivating young people has helped us to bring some amazing young people into an industry that they may otherwise have overlooked. These apprentices have benefited as they’ve developed new skills and new careers as well as our industry
If we want to see the green services sector continue to flourish we need to be getting out there, talking to schools, to colleges, to young people and spreading the message that horticulture can offer a rewarding and lucrative career.
 
Peter Cosgrove

Peter Cosgrove is general manager of Glendale Liverpool

 

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