Ornamental Horticulture Sector Skills Survey


HNS POBOF 201 - Ornamental Horticulture Sector Skills Survey

Start Date: 
Completion Date: 
Project Leader: 
Michael Oberreuter, Pye Tait

Industry representative: Martin Emmett, Binsted Nursery 

AHDB Horticulture Cost: £49,370

SummaryA detailed skills survey of up to 1,000 businesses, supported by three roundtable discussion forums (alternative: up to 35 depth interviews), to ascertain the skills needs of the ornamental horticulture industry across the UK. A range of stakeholders are involved in commissioning the project in order to gather not only overall global detail across the breadth of the sector but also detail on skill matters within the key sub-sectors. Results from the survey will help equip the Ornamental Horticulture Round Table Group (OHRG) and wider sector to support the case for lobbying government and requests for funding, help inform on migratory advisory committee consultations and provide insight about the demand for and gaps with the training sector within the horticulture sector. It is anticipated that this project will help in attainment of a sufficient labour force post-Brexit and a skilled career pathway into the industry.

The survey will involve sufficient representation from all ornamental horticulture industries/businesses, including: propagators, cultivators, wholesalers, landscape services, historical site maintenance, biological gardens, arboriculture, garden retail etc. All sub-sectors of the industry should be included. Roundtable/workshops have also been factored in to explore key opportunities and challenges facing the sector in the future, including scenarios and implications for future workforce change, which can be notoriously hard for businesses – especially small business - to quantify. 

AimThe Ornamental Horticulture Round Table Group (OHRG) requires a detailed skills-needs analysis of ornamental horticulture businesses across the UK. On a strategic level, the findings will contribute to the on-going effort to enable the sector to realise its full potential in terms of productivity, investment as well as to raise its profile. On a practical level, the findings will shape the OHRG’s work, prioritise future actions and support the case for lobbying Government, including requests for funding. On the skills agenda, the OHRG (on behalf of the sector) needs the Government to commit to securing access to a sufficient labour force post-Brexit and to better promote skilled career pathways into the industry.

This research constitutes the second phase of research, following an initial pilot study carried out independently by Pye Tait Consulting for the OHRG in 2018. That study involved defining the ornamental horticulture sector for research purposes, setting the research objectives (which have been carried forward for this commission) and developing and testing a business and skills survey questionnaire with a small sample of 50 individuals/firms.


1. Understand the drivers of change affecting ornamental horticulture (including opportunities and constraints to growth) and how these are influencing employers’ skills needs ;

2. Define the ornamental horticulture sector and estimate current and anticipated future UK workforce numbers, including additional and replacement demand ;

3. Establish the profile of the horticulture workforce, including demographic information, ethnicity, qualifications attainment and working patterns ;

4. Quantify the prevalence of skills shortage and recruitment difficulties at all levels (including hard-to-fill vacancies) and reasons why these are being experienced ;

5. Quantify current skill levels and the future importance of those skills (using a skills-scoring approach), to determine future critical skills gaps and priority training needs;

6. Explore attitude, approaches and barriers to training ; and

7. Prepare recommendations, taking into account additional support needed to help the ornamental horticulture sector realise its full potential.