From education to employment

Growing world class talent at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

London played host to the world’s most famous flower show last month. From May 25-29, RHS Chelsea Flower Show took place at the Royal Hospital in West London and I’m sure you are aware from footage on FE News that UK Skills was honoured to have an award winning garden at the event.

Following the success of landscape gardeners at WorldSkills UK competitions over recent years, UK Skills was invited by the RHS to submit a design for the Urban Garden category. Offering an international platform to promote the importance of skills in today’s economy, we created a garden to celebrate the talent and world class skills of young people across the nation. Entitled: “Growing World Class Talent: celebrating the workforce of tomorrow” the garden illustrated the urgent need for a greater investment in skills and development to ensure we have a skilled workforce to match the challenges of the 21st century.

A team of talented young people, all of whom had represented the UK at previous WorldSkills Competitions or who are in training with the aim of being selected for Team UK for WorldSkills London 2011 built the garden from scratch. The build team was overseen by Harry Turner, the WorldSkills Training Manager in Landscape Gardening and Lecturer at Askham Bryan College. Harry was assisted by Mike Burdett, a lecturer in Bricklaying at York College and Darren Thompson who will be a Workshop Supervisor at WorldSkills London 2011.

Having the opportunity to create a garden that was visited by over 150,000 members of the public allowed UK Skills, together with the Colleges involved, to highlight the importance and worth of vocational qualifications in today’s economic climate.

Building the garden, which was designed to appeal to a young couple living in an urban area, enabled the team to demonstrate a wide range of skills including: landscape gardening, bricklaying, electrical installation, cabinet making, plumbing, floristry and stonesmasonry. All of the skills represented in the Chelsea garden are also present at the biennial WorldSkills Competition which comes to London from October 5-8 next year.

The garden featured a variety of edible, ornamental and native plants. Particular features included a pond with a central carved stone feature, a wall with in-built nesting boxes to encourage different species of birds and flint panels, filed with lime mortar, to encourage nesting invertebrates. With a Training Manager and past WorldSkills, UK Alumni involved, the build at the Show provided an excellent opportunity for aspiring members of Team UK for WorldSkills London 2011 to learn from their peers and put their skills to the test by competing in conditions that will be similar to WorldSkills.

The UK Skills garden was awarded a Silver Flora Medal in the Urban Garden category. It was visited by a large number of celebrities and members of the Royal Family all of whom commented on the high level of skills and workmanship that had gone into building the garden.

The team’s achievement at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show has made UK Skills proud to be able to fly the flag and celebrate the breadth of young talent that is available in the UK.

All involved in the garden hope that it will have inspired visitors attending the Show to think about how landscape gardening and other skilled vocations can be extremely rewarding careers.

Simon Bartley is chief executive of UK Skills, which champions learning through competitions and awards

Read other FE News articles by Simon Bartley:??

UK Skills honours talented young competitors

Understanding employee values and development needs for business success

Act now to enter the world’s greatest skills competition

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