About Lackham Farm

Employment Opportunities

Production Horticulture

(source: Lantra)

Changing Skills Demands

graph1

It is predicted that there will be an increase of 16,100 in numbers employed 2001-06. Business numbers are expected to rise by 3,100 from 2001 to 2006.

Future Skill Needs

The level of skills needed is expected to continue to increase throughout the industry. Increases in the diversity of both food and ornamental crops are requiring a wider range of production skills. Quality control, packing and labelling are critical particularly in food production, and increased technological demands are creating an ongoing requirement for higher-level skills in information and production technologies as well as the ability to understand, set up and operate complex production systems. Business management and marketing abilities are becoming critical to enabling growers to remain competitive.

The skills needed varies in different parts of the industry with, for instance, larger businesses involved in intensive production requiring high levels of skills in production technology and increasingly ICT among senior staff, while small, traditional nurseries emphasise more practical production skills and may not recognise a need for ICT.

Employees increasingly need to be able to organise, plan, and think their way through practical problems, and general skill demands are increasing. Attributes such as flexibility, willingness to learn and initiative are needed, and there is also an increasing demand for communication and customer care skills.

Landscaping

(source: Lantra)

Changing Skills Demands

An increase of 5,100 people is predicted. Business numbers are expected to rise by 500 from 2001 to 2006.

graph2

It is also important to assess the likely 'job opportunities' created through the need to replace people who retire, change career, as well as any net demand created through employment expansion. Even where employment is declining overall, net occupational demand can still generate a significant number of 'job opportunities' and therefore related training requirements.

graph3 graph4

Future Skill Needs

Both 'best-value' contracts in the public sector and more discerning private and commercial clients demand higher skill levels in both contract management and craft areas. Specialised skills associated with historic gardens, restoration, interior landscaping and environmental conservation and management are also expected to increase in importance.

An increasing demand by lottery funding, TV coverage, increased sport within schools is creating a demand for better sports surfaces and therefore skilled sports ground operators. Also due to the increasing threat of litigation from sports injuries there is more awareness of the need for skilled grounds staff. Skill levels are expected to increase across the industry in a wide range of areas, with flexibility, initiative and willingness to learn being seen as particularly important along with communication and customer care skills. The rise in small units and movement towards mobile maintenance teams increasingly requires self-management abilities. Research suggests that almost a quarter of employers in the industry are identifying skills gaps among their workers, with the largest area of demand being for job-specific abilities.

The need for awareness of health and safety and legislative requirements is generally rising, and is promoted by the Registration of Landscape Operatives scheme (ROLO). The entry of some unskilled workers into the industry through self-employment points to a need for basic job skills among some workers.

Skills Supply - Education and Training

Production horticulture

(source: Lantra)

Current provision

Production horticulture tends to be characterised by larger businesses that are located in specific areas of the UK e.g. the South East, North East and Eastern region. There are two distinct sides to the industry, food crops and ornamentals, that have some training needs in common as well as some industry specific technical skill needs. This is one area of horticulture that is less well served by specialist qualifications, the most used awards are all in the areas of general horticulture rather than production specialisms. This indicates that the current portfolio of qualifications may not be meeting the needs of the industry. It is much more difficult for colleges or private training providers to offer realistic practical experience of large-scale glass houses with modern technological controls than it is to offer experience of landscaping/horticulture.

Qualifications

Despite rationalisation there are still 204 awards available to the production horticulture industry, although 156 of those are NPTC Certificates of Competence and Proficiency Tests. There are NVQ/SVQs available at each level from 1 to 4 as well as a range of other types of qualification from a variety of awarding bodies. The greatest reduction is in the Edexcel ND, HNC and HND provision.

Estimated Required Workforce Skill Levels Compared to Estimated Workforce Qualifications

graph 5

The table shows the lack of qualified people at NVQ/SVQ level 3 and above. It is possible that many workers with low or no qualifications have considerable skills at higher levels although not evidenced by formal qualifications.

Vacancies and Recruitment Difficulties (External Skill Shortages)

Only 7% of production horticulture businesses surveyed by Lantra reported a current vacancy, but 20% had experienced recruitment difficulties over the past 12 months. 51% of employers reported difficulties recruiting skilled workers. Reasons for recruitment difficulty were reported as:

  • Lack of applicants with required qualifications and skills - 32%
  • Lack of applicants with required work experience - 17%
  • Lack of interest in this type of work - 17%
  • General lack of applicants - 20%

Internal Skill Gaps

22% of production horticulture businesses reported a skills gap within their workforce. Businesses reported significant skills gaps with employees from the more highly skilled occupations, see below:

  • Owner-managers - 18%
  • Supervisors - 5%
  • Sales and Administration - 12%
  • Skilled staff - 41%
  • Semi/unskilled staff - 23%

Types of skill associated with their most significant skills gap were job specific skills, followed by customer service and communication skills.

Landscaping

(source: Lantra)

Current provision

Landscaping is a broad term for a diverse industry, which includes amenity horticulture, greenkeeping, interior landscapes and arboriculture, as well as 'gardening'. It is not surprising that this industry has more provision available to it than any other a range of qualifications and types of provider. There is also considerable overlap with the environmental conservation area (e.g. historic gardens) and floristry. Most specialist agriculture and horticulture colleges offer courses in one or more of these areas as do many general FE colleges. In addition many private training providers work in this area and several very large organisations have developed their own schemes (e.g. the National Trust Careership).

Qualifications

The landscaping industry had more qualifications available to it than any other industry in the land-based sector. Currently there are 187 qualifications from entry level to notional level 5 and this is a reduction from 244 different awards. The rationalisation is mainly in Edexcel FD, ND (from 17 titles to 1) and HNC (from 28 to 13 titles) and HND (from 25 to 7 titles) provision. The most used qualification in this area is the City and Guilds Certificate in Gardening, which is not a professional award and tends to be taken by a majority of amateur gardeners. However, numbers are relatively high with 4551 awards being made in 1998, and might be used by some as a route in to the industry. The other qualifications with significant take up are the SQA NC modules in Gardening/Floristry/Plant sales (1199 awards in 1998) and Amenity Horticulture/Sportgrounds (1099 awards in 1998). There were a lot of qualifications with no take up at all, most of which are being removed by Edexcel. In addition City and Guilds are due to revise all of their level 2 NC and level 3 ANC provision by the end of this year. The National Trust recruits 15 people annually to its Careership Scheme, many of whom are mature entrants who have to be funded by the National Trust through their training. The high number and variety of awards available means that there are no identifiable gaps in provision for the landscaping industry.

Estimated Required Workforce Skill Levels Compared to Estimated Workforce Qualifications

graph 4

The table shows the lack of qualified people at NVQ/SVQ level 2-3 and above. It is quite possible that many workers with low or no qualifications have considerable skills at higher levels although not evidenced by formal qualifications.

Vacancies and Recruitment Difficulties

(External Skill Shortages) - Only 5% of landscaping businesses surveyed by Lantra reported a current vacancy, but 19% reported a recruitment difficulty over the past 12 months. 62% of employers reported a difficulty in recruiting skilled workers. Reasons for recruitment difficulty were reported as:

  • Lack of applicants with required qualifications and skills - 34%
  • Lack of applicants with required work experience - 31%
  • Lack of interest in this type of work - 19%

Internal Skill Gaps

24% of landscaping businesses reported a skills gap within their workforce. Business respondents reported significant skills gaps with employees from the more highly skilled occupations, see below:

  • Owner-managers - 17%
  • Supervisors - 3%
  • Sales and Administration - 2%
  • Skilled staff - 50%
  • Semi/unskilled staff - 27%

Most significant skills gaps were job specific skills, showing initiative, problem-solving, and willingness to learn.

Skills Needed

Some of the qualities you need are:

  • Work out of doors in all weathers
  • Be fit and strong
  • Flexible working - weekends and unsocial hours. Long hours in summer and shorter in winter
  • Flexible about the sort of work you are asked to do
  • Be able to work as part of team
  • Get on with different types of people
  • Work on your own
  • Work with machinery

If you decide to work with the public in some way, for example working in a garden centre or sports ground, you should be able to communicate well. More jobs these days require you to use new technology, from computers to mobile 'phones.

If you want to run your own business you will need all the qualities above especially working under pressure, organisational skills and handling difficult situations and people! But you will also need experience of:

  • Marketing / promotions
  • Financial management
  • Customer service
  • Staff recruitment, selection and management, and employment law
  • Organisation skills

Many of skills can be gained through short courses at your local college or the industry training bodies mentioned below. Trade associations can also advise on issues like employment regulations.

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