Is it not about time our industry finally came together to solve the increasing problems our turfgrass and amenity sectors are facing, in light of global issues and post-pandemic?
We are currently seeing a demise in people wanting to work in our industry, mainly due to the low pay and poor conditions. An individual shelf-stacking or driving a white van can earn more money than a qualified gardener / grounds professional.
I have been highlighting for many years the plight of our industry in terms of recruitment, pay and conditions, education, and recognition of the value of our public and private open spaces.
I therefore have read with interest some recent examples of frustrations from many dedicated professionals working in our industry, who have talked about the same set of problems we continue to face.
First up, is one from Brian Sandalls from Turfcare Blog who posted about the current state of our industry.
We then had another from Tony Leach who was very concerned about the future of cricket and how grassroots clubs will survive in the coming years Both are well worth read.
It’s sad to consider where the next generation of turf professionals and gardeners will come from. I wrote an article about this, reiterating how our wonderful turfgrass and amenity sector is a unique and rewarding industry to work in. The scope and variety of work and the opportunity to work anywhere in the world is astounding. Once you have acquired the basic fundamental skills of horticulture and groundsmanship, there is no end to the opportunities on offer within this ever changing, global industry.
Our two main organisations the GMA and BIGGA have been trying to address these issues over many years, however they do not seem to be able to solve this problem on their own and they only truly represent a fraction of the people who work in this vast industry. What we really need is a coming together of some of our leading industry bodies to sit round the table and find a solution to these highlighted problems.
We need to get the likes of GMA, BIGGA, RHS, Fields In Trust, PMA, BAGMA, AEA, sports’ governing bodies, National Trust etc along with others including major turfcare equipment manufacturers, to be represented at a meeting to discuss the way forward.
I therefore propose we set up an industry meeting with the aim to get our sector to come together for the sole purpose of driving some new initiatives to solve a number of issues that continue to hold our industry back from achieving its potential.
Currently we have several issues that I believe need to be addressed. These include:-
- Recruitment of new blood into our industry. We could start with a national recruitment / promotion campaign in every school.
- Pay and conditions
- Educational and training. Perhaps there is an opportunity to set up a national apprenticeship / academy scheme across the UK that could provide a career path for a given number of new people for the next five years, to come and work in our industry.
- A single national annual exhibition. This could bring all facets of our diverse industry into one focussed three day show with the aim of attracting 25,000 plus visitors to celebrate and endorse and promote our industry.
- And the bringing together key organisations to achieve these goals. Instead of working in isolation, our trade bodies could collaborate for the good of the entire industry.