New project to help future proof the Australian nursery and garden workforce

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Australia’s nursery sector is a vibrant industry with a very positive story to tell. It contributes over $2.29 billion to our economy every year, provides starter stock into our food and fibre supply chains, and delivers a green product which boosts the health and wellbeing of our environment and our communities.

But, like many other agricultural industries, it’s facing a major challenge around high staff turnover and an ability to attract and retain appropriate talent. In a more competitive employment environment than ever, the industry is needing to improve its image as an attractive and rewarding career choice in Australian horticulture.

A new project, titled Review of Nursery industry career pathways (NY17002), is being funded by Hort Innovation using the nursery industry levy and funds from the Australian Government, to help address the employment issue and provide a clear response roadmap for industry.

Led by agricultural consultancy RMCG, the project will deliver, in partnership with NGIA, a plan for successful career path development to help build and sustain the interest of those working, or looking to work, in Australia’s nursery industry across various levels.

The project will provide clear recommendations to address staff attraction, retention and development of the nursery and garden workforce, which is aimed at boosting the resilience and productivity of the industry in the long term.

For growers, there will be several ways to be involved including an online survey which will be undertaken later in the year, in addition to an industry workshop. As a vital issue for industry, growers are encouraged to share their views on the challenges they face at the business level, as well as possible solutions.

More specifically, and over the next six months, RMCG will:

1. Assess existing attraction and development initiatives within the industry and more broadly the horticultural sector. This will be carried out through a desktop review and consultation with industry.

2. The findings from this research will be validated via a voluntary industry workshop that will provide RMCG with real life case studies and direction on what is needed for the industry, including the need to collect more data and test established assumptions.

3. The research, together with the workshop, will inform the development of an overarching strategy and implementation plan for the nursery industry to action, to help secure a stronger, more secure workforce.

The overarching success of the project will be measured through the industry being recognised as a leading career option in production horticulture, with effective education and training opportunities, and valued as an employer of choice.

The project will consider current Hort Innovation professional development projects underway, including the Green Industry Growing Leaders Program, the Global Hort Masterclass, Attracting new entrants into Australian horticulture, amongst several others.

More details about the project will be coming shortly, so keep an eye out for updates via or sign up to the monthly e-newsletter to receive the latest R&D and marketing news direct to your inbox by emailing [email protected].

Project code: NY17002