RHS Response to Criticism that 24+ FE Learning Loans are used for RHS Level 3 Certificate

Wednesday 9 October 2013

The RHS is disappointed by an article in FE Week that cites the Level 3 RHS Certificate as an example of where 24+ FE loans could be spent on ‘leisure focused’ courses ‘not aimed at getting people into a job or higher education’. http://feweek.co.uk/2013/10/03/new-loans-being-used-for-leisure/

RHS qualifications are highly valued within the horticultural industry; they are used by the National Trust for their Horticultural Academy students and by RBG Kew as part of the academic studies for their horticultural apprenticeship students. In addition, over half of the students who enrol on the Level 3 RHS Certificate at RHS Qualification Centres, do so to further their careers.

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “This article reinforces misconceptions that are damaging to horticulture, implying that it isn’t a skilled career and is only a hobby or leisure activity.

“It’s even more disappointing that the article comes only months after we launched the Horticulture Matters report to Government, which highlighted that more than 70% of horticultural businesses can’t fill skilled vacancies, nearly 20% are forced to recruit overseas and almost 70% say career entrants are inadequately prepared for work.

“The shortage of horticultural skills impacts on every level of the industry; from the scientist researching plant diseases to the crop grower seeking a more sustainable secure harvest and the horticulturist advising architects on biodiversity in our cities.

“Colleges shouldn’t be shamed for advertising 24+ FE Loans with the RHS Level 3 Certificate as we urgently need to encourage new talent into the horticultural industry. One of the great things about RHS Qualifications is that they are accessible to all, from the amateur to the professional, what needs to be carefully considered is the reason behind the application for the 24+ loan scheme, rather than the qualification itself.”

Horticulture contributes £9 billion to the British economy each year as an industry. It employs 300,000 people from crop growers and gardeners to scientists, tree surgeons and turf specialists.


Notes to editors

Notes to the Editor: For more information, please contact Hayley Monckton in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 0207 821 3043 or email hayleymonckton@rhs.org.uk or Laura Price on 0207 821 3688 or email lauraprice@rhs.org.uk

'Meet' the former students who have recently all been successful in gaining RHS qualifications. For some it has heralded a change of heart about their careers, for all it has been a satisfying achievement - http://www.rhs.org.uk/Courses/Qualifications/Case-studies

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, the first of our gardens, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 200 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262


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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262