Pioneering horticultural training programme launched

Landscape company Bowles & Wyer has introduced a pioneer training programme for the landscape and horticultural industry designed to tackle the widening skills gap.

The ‘Hort Academy‘ is currently open to everyone within the Gardening & Aftercare department at Bowles and Wyer, who plan to roll it out across the company, to offer a degree of expertise and personal development that will be the first of its kind in the landscape sector.

The curriculum, which has been developed by Jeff Stephenson, Head of Horticulture & Aftercare at Bowles & Wyer, offers training for everyone, regardless of their ability and previous experience. For the staff in the company’s Gardening & Aftercare department, it is designed to foster a deeper knowledge of plants and how to nurture and tend them. For designers and landscape architects within the company the ambition is to build a firm foundation in horticulture that can benefit their design work.

There is a growing skills crisis in the horticultural industry and the new Hort Academy has been designed to help address this. Jeff Stephenson points out that like many in the industry, they are fully committed to ensuring gardening, landscaping and horticulture are viewed as credible, professional careers: “By launching the Hort Academy we’ve placed ourselves firmly at the forefront of this important movement. We hope our Academy will go some way to addressing the deepening skills shortage in the industry and to improving the level of expertise across the sector as a whole,” he said.

The ambitious programme will cover horticultural skills and theory as well as CPD, attendance at seminars, workshops and regular trips to nurseries. Training will be equivalent to one day per month and will be ongoing. The Hort Academy will enable every member of staff to come up to an equivalent standard and for everyone to have the same knowledge base. For more experienced staff training can be provided to refresh knowledge they may have gained at college.

John Wyer, Chief Executive, Bowles & Wyer said: “We founded the Hort Academy because we are committed to building successful careers for all our staff. We know that when they realise their potential and thrive, our business thrives too. But we have also been careful not to lose the joy of horticulture. We want everyone at Bowles & Wyer to share our passion for creating and tending stunning landscapes.

For trainee Melanie Peck, the commitment by Bowles & Wyre to staff development was one of the reasons she joined the company: “It’s important that as gardeners we keep up to date on products and best practices and utilise them in our day-to-day work. It keeps us passionate about what we do and reminds us why we are gardeners,” she said.

Bowles & Wyer have built up a reputation for creating award-winning gardens and landscapes through their imaginative approach and high-quality service. The Hort Academy will provide valuable expertise and training for trainees and a wide range of staff across the company.

Photo credits: All photographs are ©Bowles & Wyer.