In the horticulture industry, people are the greatest asset.
Our ability to produce high quality fruit and vegetables, and the innovations we advance across the industry as a whole, depend on the calibre of people we have across our businesses. We can’t expect to evolve and innovate effectively without attracting new young talent who bring new skills and new thinking.
Today, attracting and retaining top talent is a challenge that our industry continues to struggle with. This is partly due to a poor understanding of what happens day-to-day but also relates to how businesses have responded to the challenge.
Talented young individuals have a lot of career options when they leave the education system, leading to a huge amount of competition to attract talent. Other industries are luring bright young high school or university graduates with targeted programmes along with a work culture and modern facilities that they find appealing.
Looking ahead, it is important that growers and other businesses in the supply chain see staff as an investment, not a cost. It’s not enough to simply attract new people. Growers and other employers in the industry need to offer mentoring and development on an ongoing basis while also providing a workplace where young people feel safe and confident. High performing organisations recruit young talent who may be a bit green but show potential, then develop them into key roles.
At MG Marketing and in our Australian operation, LaManna Premier, our graduate programmes are a critical way of recruiting new talent into our workforce. Graduates rotate through different departments which exposes them to the diversity of our operations. This provides valuable experience, increases networking, and improves graduates’ understanding of our business as a whole.
We retain 90% of the MG graduates which is high by industry standards and is a testament to the environment we create and the support we provide. The success of our programme can be measured by the number of current employees who started as graduates and now hold key roles across our business.
While smaller businesses may not have the resources to run a full programme for graduates, they can place a strong emphasis on career development and ensure they have a work environment that is attractive to young people and enables them to thrive.
We can all play our part in promoting horticulture as a career path and educating people about the benefits of working in this industry.
Peter Hendry - CEO