The Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group, which the NFU sits on, has today published a survey to determine the sector’s current skills requirements, the future needs of the ornamental horticulture industry and what is likely to drive future changes.
The survey found that most ornamental businesses expect environmental opportunities to be the main driver of change within the industry, as well as shortages of skills, particularly at technical and supervisor level, and access to labour which many within the sector are already experiencing.
Businesses also predicted that automation, robotics and other technologies will not have enough impact over the next few years to lift workforce pressures and provide the skills required.
Martin Emmett, NFU horticulture board member and the Group‘s education and employment sub-group chair, said: “As an industry, ornamental horticulture has so much potential to produce high-quality plants and flowers for the British public to enjoy all year round, alongside continuing to protect and enhance our natural environment.
“In order for the industry to thrive we need highly-skilled, business-minded people, and investment into the development and training of these people is key to the sustainability of the sector.
“While many horticultural businesses have good in-house training, the industry as a whole needs training programmes that are fit for purpose and that develop individuals’ knowledge, experience and managing skills so they are properly prepared as they move to new stages in their careers.
“We also need to see a future immigration policy that fits business need and reflects the importance of both permanent and seasonal workers to the industry.”