Horticulture: A Career To Be Proud Of
It was a privilege to attend the RHS' conference on Horticulture: A Career To Be Proud Of in London yesterday. It's part of National Gardening Week and was arranged in response to two rather shocking things:
- David Cameron's recent comparison of gardening with litter picking
- A RHS commissioned survey showing most young people consider horticulture as a career only suitable for the unskilled
It's clear horticulture has an image problem. In contrast the 21 speakers yesterday were admirable ambassadors, demonstrating clearly just how good an option horticulture is for a career. The array of speakers was glittering and the day was chaired by Alan Titchmarsh.
I took loads of notes - far too many to post as it would be soooo long. For me the best part of the day was hearing the four young people who spoke so eloquently about their struggle to get started in horticulture. I wish I could bottle their enthusiasm and love for their jobs and get everyone to have a good long sniff.
Unlike many sectors there are jobs to be had. There's an anticipated shortfall of 11,000 people entering the horticultural industry over the next few years. The majority of them are for well qualified individuals from GCSE right through to post graduate level. 3,000 jobs are at graduate/post graduate level alone - that's hardly ranking alongside litter picking!
Some of the problems highlighted yesterday were the lack of awareness of the diversity of careers on offer, awful pay (though there ARE well paid jobs in the sector too), the lack of careers advice and how to fit horticulture into the curriculum at secondary level.
However, we need solutions not problems. A new discovery for me yesterday was the Grow website pictured at the top of this page. At last there's a 'one stop shop' for finding out about the industry. It's something the careers teacher I spoke to yesterday was very pleased to see and is a useful site for anyone contemplating a career change as well as those currently in full time education. It has lots of information, adverts for jobs, details of apprenticeships and stories from people working in the industry. It's a great first step on that image makeover.
Now it needs our help to make it er, grow - by linking to the Grow website, following them on Twitter and liking their Facebook page. Let's help to create a buzz about horticulture and get those vacancies filled.
Update: There's a very interesting reply from Esther on her blog with a blog post length reply from me.
Update 20/4: Victoria has a great piece in today's Independent :)