It is a well-known fact, that the horticultural industry has a skills gap and finds difficulty recruiting younger people into the trade. One of our main ambitions is to help support and promote horticulture as an exciting and rewarding career, and hopefully make a positive impact towards eroding this looming gap holding back the wider industry.
One of the ways we do this is through our incredible horticultural education programme which sees dozens of students graduate each year with Royal Horticultural Society Level 2 and 3 qualifications. The second way to help achieve our ambition is by providing practical, work-based learning opportunities for budding horticulturalists who want to learn whilst simultaneously earning a penny.
We’re really proud to say that we’ve done this consistently for several years with the support of a couple of different training providers; the Heritage and Botanic Garden Training Programme (HBGTP), and the Work and Retrain as a Gardener Scheme (WRAGs).
Each year, trainees join us from both of schemes and work alongside the Winterbourne team for 12 months gaining invaluable experience and hands-on experience working within a busy and historic garden. Each trainee will work in different areas of the garden learning all aspects of its maintenance as well as receiving training on different garden machinery and equipment. They will also take part in regular plant identification tests, complete one-off projects and keep a daily journal to jot down their daily reflections.
This year, we’ve been joined by two trainees, Susie Philpott (HBGTP) who joins us after completing her Masters in Feature Film Development, and Jamie Boyles (WRAGs) who also works part time at Wightwick Manor, National Trust. Both of them have settled in really well, receiving positive feedback from the wider Winterbourne team who have enjoyed their enthusiasm. Susie and Jamie are grasping every opportunity put in front of them and are getting a good grounding in ornamental horticulture.
We shouldn’t fail to mention that three of our current team members are graduates themselves, each coming from a similar training program. It proves that this really is a good ‘foot in the door’.
The industry has seen an increase in people wanting to pursue horticulture as a career, in part because of lockdown. Many people have realised the importance of green spaces, and its value upon wellbeing. So, it’s incumbent upon us, and other establishments like us, to really seize the moment while gardens and gardening are receiving so much positive attention, and keep striving to help provide quality training, experience and opportunities for all those now considering horticulture as a career.
We hope that’s something we’ve been able to do over the last few years, and something we’ll be able to do for many years to come.