At its annual conference on Saturday 8 October the Institute of Horticulture tackled some of the biggest challenges facing the industry today; how to inspire and engage young people about the many exciting and rewarding career paths in horticulture; how to equip them with the skills and knowledge to make it a first choice career and how to effectively support them as they progress through the industry.
The Conference was entitled 'Here today: Who's here tomorrow? A focus on young people in horticulture', and speakers included Roy Lancaster, Chris Bailes (Curator, Chelsea Physic Garden), Sue Minter (President, Institute of Horticulture), Tom Salmon (Managing Director, Hedon Salads), Paul Hannan (Chairman, Landex), and the 2010 and 2011 Institute of Horticulture Young Horticulturist of the Year winners; Faye Steer and Suzanne Moss.
Sue Minter FI Hort President of the Institute of Horticulture said: "The conference has given us a very clear steer that an outreach programme to schools and colleges is required to engage younger members and potential members. Our ability to fill the gap left by the withdrawal of funding to the careers services countrywide will be aided by the careers website Grow, for which the Institute provides the administration. So many delegates, from recent Young Horticulturist of the Year winners to retired Members, bemoaned the poor (and sometimes prejudiced) careers information they had received, that this is an opportunity for Grow to do so much better, I am also thrilled that the President-Elect, Leigh Morris FI Hort, who is also Chair of the Grow Steering Group, has some exciting ideas and proposals for social networking which we hope will address the preferences of tomorrow's horticulturists"
Chris Beardshaw who received the 2010 President's Medal at the Institute's AGM, which preceded the conference, said "It's time to stop being so modest as an industry about what we do, what we can achieve and the effect we can have. Now is the time to celebrate and demonstrate to the world how exciting horticulture is. It is our responsibility to pass on the joys of working in this industry to others."
Chris went on to say the Institute of Horticulture has a key role in guiding a career path in to and through the horticultural industry. This was a view echoed by the Institute's Young Horticulturist of the Year 2010 and 2011 winners, Faye Steer and Suzanne Moss who said "We need to inspire young people interested in horticulture, we need to equip them with the skills needed for a career in the industry and to support and encourage them so that they remain in horticulture as they progress through their careers."
Tom Salmon MI Hort, Managing Director, Hedon Salads Ltd said "Hedon has shown it is possible to train your workforce using existing training frameworks and that it does pay to train your staff. What employers need to do is be more determined to believe in Apprenticeships and what the NFU, Institute of Horticulture, the HTA and Lantra need to do is promote our Industry as a career. Industry also can help with school open days and project sharing. In 2010 Hedon trained 27 people to pass their Horticultural Apprenticeship. They are on course for 95% of all their staff having this qualification as a minimum in their company for full time staff."
All of the speakers were unanimous in their support for the horticulture industry to improve its image and its standing in the mass media.
In reviewing the key points from the conference, Andrew Gill FI Hort, Vice President said "Individually we can all be mentors or simply encourage a young person we know to get into and stay in horticulture. To this end the Institute aims to continue its mentoring scheme and our work to the objective of 'Uniting a growing profession.'