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Horticulture, landscape and sports turf

The horticulture, landscape and sports turf industries cover: hard, soft and interior landscaping; sports turf maintenance and greenkeeping; private, heritage and botanic gardens; commercial grounds; plus public parks and green spaces. The landscape industries comprise both public and private sector businesses, which are involved in: local authority green space management; all forms of sports turf management and maintenance; and state owned and private historic and heritage gardens.

Key statistics:

  • There are approximately 172,000 gardeners and grounds people working in the industry, in an estimated 16,650 businesses.
  • The industry employs around 15.3% of the environmental and land-based sector’s total workforce.
  • 49.3% of businesses employ between 1-9 staff, 80.5% employ less than 10 or no staff.
  • 74% of the workforce is male, 79.3% of proprietors are male and 73.8% of staff are male.
  • Proprietors and staff are more commonly aged 35-44 years
  • 48.1% of staff are under 35 years.
  • 12.2% of staff and 28.1% of proprietors are over 55 years.
  • 44% of the workforce is self-employed.
  • 60% of the workforce has a level 2 and above qualification, 18% of the workforce has no qualifications.

Jobs in the industry include: allotment officer, grounds maintenance manager, arboretum supervisor, head gardener, woodland officer, head park ranger, assistant arboretum worker, arboriculturalist, landscape architect, machine plant operator, nursery worker, parks officer, garden designer, assistant greenkeeper, grounds person

Entry requirements for this industry vary depending on the job role. Some jobs require no formal qualifications. However, relevant qualifications and experience can be an advantage, especially for higher paid job roles. Technical/specialist roles may require specific qualifications and/or experience, but some employers may invest in training a suitable individual. Volunteering or taking seasonal/temporary work can improve employment opportunities. There are opportunities for those wishing to change career, particularly those from construction.

Drivers of change in employment are:

  • The need for businesses to remain competitive and sustainable in the face of a tough economic climate is reflected in the reducing number of directly employed staff in key industries, such as agriculture and horticulture.
  • Urban regeneration will increase demand for rangers and parks staff.
  • Increased consumer spending in the amenity horticulture and garden retail, countryside recreation, equine and natural heritage industries will lead to greater demand for these products and services with consequent employment opportunities.
  • The widespread building of new houses will increase the demand for the ‘greenskills’ industries. This will mainly involve landscaping around houses, roads, parks, etc., and also increased fencing requirements, horticultural requisites, floristry and other service type needs.
  • The 2012 Olympics Games will have a major impact on businesses and suppliers and its consequential ‘draw’ on the skilled labour in the sector to support the project and its infrastructure.
  • The 2012 Olympic Games are expected to give the sector a boost, with a huge demand for its services.
  • Customer service is seen as a key skill requirement alongside technical competence.
  • It was also identified that there will always be a requirement for skills at a minimum level (two), including literacy and numeracy.
  • Extra skills including planning and organisation, generic ‘business skills’, marketing and IT are seen to be of increasing importance. Also identified was the future requirement for basic electrical skills for landscapers.

The current and future skills that will become increasingly important at high and intermediate level are: communication; literacy; planning and organisation; computing and IT; customer relations; numeracy; self-improvement; and technical. In addition to the skills shortages identified above, selected current and future industry specific skills include:

  • Landscape contracting – practical horticultural skills, practical job related skills – hard landscaping, ground work skills, garden design, plant identification, plant knowledge and pest and disease recognition, health and safety
  • Local authority parks and green space management, grounds maintenance – practical horticultural skills, practical job related skills, plant and equipment, plant identification, plant knowledge and pest and disease recognition, security, wildlife, conservation management, events management
  • Heritage and botanic gardens – practical horticultural skills, plant identification, plant knowledge and pest and disease recognition, high quality horticultural skills, interpretation, wildlife, conservation management
  • Sports turf – technology transfer of scientific knowledge in relation to sports turf management and maintenance, technical and practical, photosynthetic cycle application to turf, pest and disease recognition

East Midlands – There are an estimated 5,567 employees in the regional workforce, in 400 around businesses. Many businesses are placing great dependence on the use of contractors and contractual labour (i.e. seasonal, casual and migrant).

East of England – Employment in the region is concentrated in agriculture (45%), landscape (12%), equine (11.3%) and production horticulture (10.2%). Urban regeneration will drive up demand for more rangers and parks staff in the region.

London – There are an estimated 13,916 employees in the regional workforce, in around 900 businesses. The Olympic effect coupled with urban regeneration is creating opportunities now and in the longer term in landscape, fencing and green space management.

North East – There are an estimated 8,350 employees in the regional workforce, in around 320 businesses. Landscape businesses are a significant employer in the region.

North West – There are an estimated 20,875 employees in the regional workforce, in around 800 businesses. Urban regeneration will drive up demand for more rangers and parks staff in the region.

South East – The Olympic effect coupled with urban regeneration is creating opportunities now and in the longer term in landscape, fencing and green space management. The growth in landscape and fencing is due to the development of the built environment across the region in areas such as the Thames Gateway and the Gatwick Diamond, as well as the planning and development of the Olympics in 2012.

South West – There are an estimated 11,133 employees in the regional workforce, in around 800 businesses. Urban regeneration will drive up demand for more rangers and parks staff in Plymouth, Bristol, Torbay and Bournemouth.

West Midlands – Urban regeneration will drive up demand for more rangers and parks staff in the region.

Yorkshire and the Humber – There are an estimated 15,308 employees in the regional workforce. Urban regeneration will drive up demand for more rangers and parks staff in the region.

Northern Ireland – There are an estimated 1,400 gardeners and groundsmen in the regional workforce, in around 250 businesses.

Wales – There are an estimated 7,000 gardeners and groundsmen in the regional workforce, in around 750 businesses.

Scotland – There are an estimated 9,100 gardeners and groundsmen in the regional workforce, in around 1,250 businesses.

Pay scales in this industry are variable, so the following only provides an indication of the average annual salary paid to some full-time positions:

  • Horticulture Managers £29,861
  • Horticultural Trades £14,318
  • Gardeners and Groundspeople £16,764

Further information on salaries can be found on the Defra website.

Source: Lantra AACS LMI report 2010