Horticulture education trends 2015

Mainstream Horticultural Education urgently needs some changes.  Not enough young people are studying horticulture and entering the profession.

Headlines seen in the media recently include:

"Horticulture is under siege in the USA"

"Careers in agriculture fail to win hearts and minds of the young"

"Concerns over shortage of agriculture graduates in Australia"

"Uganda's flower sector faces an imminent shortage of qualified managers and supervisors in flower firms"

"Kenya has a shortage of competent horticultural staff"

"Horticulture is facing a crisis in the United Kingdom"

New Zealand horticulture requires a net increase of 7,800 qualified people by 2025, with an additional 26,300 people needed to cover natural attrition".

In 2014, a publication from the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK reported that 70% of horticultural businesses in the UK struggled to fill vacancies (based on a nationwide survey).

In 2010, Australia only produced enough agricultural science graduates to fill around 17% of the available jobs

Similar indicators are being seen in many countries.

At the same time; many university graduates, across a wide range of disciplines, are having difficulty finding employment. Last month, "Graduate Careers Australia" revealed that the short term job prospects for new bachelors degree graduates are the poorest since surveying began. Only 68% of university graduates who sought full time work, were able to find it within four months of graduation.

Clearly something in our education system is not working.

An article in the ISHS journal made a range of recommendations about changes needed in our approach to horticultural education.  Apart from the need to build greater motivation to learn horticulture in all corners of society, it has also been recommended that we need new pedagogical models, or systems, for teaching horticulture. This article suggested most horticultural and agricultural courses don't include the major global issues that are of most concern to younger generations


The opportunities do exist for people who have the knowledge and motivation to forge a career in horticulture.

There are not enough appropriate graduates though; and many of the well established universities and colleges that teach horticulture remain relatively oblivious to what is needed, and changing to meet the needs of a world that is changing so fast.

Perhaps their systems are too much rooted in the past, to satisfy the needs of the future.


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Adapted from extracts in an article in the Chronica Horticulturae (Vol 55, No.2)

-Journal of the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS)

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