Yorkshire nursery fills the gap in horticultural training

Commercial nursery, Johnsons of Whixley, has seen three key staff members graduate from its Rising Stars programme, which aims to provide development opportunities to boost the teams’ skillset and progression within the Yorkshire firm.

The scheme, now in its fifth year, was created to fill a gap for local horticulture training and to develop the skills of existing staff members, enabling them to take on a more senior role within the business in the future.

Ned Antonov, Tom Chilton and Kieron Pattison received their awards after completing training experiences, technical modules, horticultural sessions, operational nursery activities, as well as a formal qualification in team leading which began in November 2020.

The programme is open to staff from all departments of the business and was delivered with a significant financial investment in external training providers, on-site training and external activities, including learning from supply and technology partners.

Graham Richardson, group managing director at Johnsons, said the future of the business was intrinsically linked with the abilities of the workforce: “Geographically we are isolated from the main hubs of horticultural activity and consequently the vast majority of relevant training programmes. It made perfect sense therefore for us to draw on our considerable experience to create our own bespoke training scheme that will help us nurture the next generation of managers and supervisors.

“We are confident that within our own pool of employees, there is the talent to lead us towards the future.”

2018 scheme graduate, Terry Cooper started out in the plant production team at Johnsons, but after progressing through the programme he now works in the IT department as systems support assistant.

He added: “I found the programme a great help and have it partly to thank for ending up working where I am today. After finishing the course, I had a better understanding of horticulture as an industry and acquired some really helpful practical skills and theoretical knowledge.”

Johnsons of Whixley is a successful commercial nursery based in North Yorkshire, having supplied projects such as the Grantley Hall grounds in Ripon, the National Trust Studley Royal Water Garden, and the Arium in Leeds. The business has over 100 years of experience in growing and supplying trees, shrubs and plants to UK-wide planting schemes.

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