June 15, 2013
phil charalBy Phil Charal
LO president

My friend Terry Murphy CLP, LO’s former education manager, wrote an article last year in this magazine depicting the present state of the horticultural apprenticeship program. He wrote, “I cannot understand why employers cannot see the value in becoming involved in the horticultural apprenticeship program.”

There is certainly no mistaking that the apprenticeship training program is a hidden treasure that is there to give young people a future and a guaranteed job.

It disappoints me when I hear that colleges are fighting each year to secure apprenticeship enrolments. Employers need to train staff, especially entrance-level employees, so that they can perform to an expected level of expertise and professionally represent their company. Apprenticeship training does all this, through educators who are professional and up-to-date on all the latest industry practices.

It appears that since the Adopt-a-School program was developed in 2007, it has been forgotten by industry members, and that is a crying shame. This great program was developed with the help of Terry Murphy.

The concept of the program was designed so that LO members can capitalize on the following areas: allowing students the potential to become future workers, managers, or owners in the landscape industry; cultivating future customers of our industry; and educating the school system to understand what the green industry is all about.

LO has lobbied Queen’s Park for years to establish a province-wide horticultural curriculum for the high school system. One of the positive results of the lobbying efforts was the establishment of HOSTA (Horticulture Ontario Secondary Teachers’ Association). This organization (www.horttrades.com/HOSTA) provides a networking opportunity with all teachers involved in horticultural programs. It allows us to share information in local curricula and make delivery more effective in the classroom.

The green industry continues to suffer from labour shortage. We have competition from more than 150 trades.

Our firm was sold on the concept in 2007. We have experienced several success stories with our co-op students during the past few years. The program allowed us to connect to the high school, where we met teachers and students, and to become part of the community.

It’s easy to get the program started. All it takes is for an LO member to contact your local high school and let them know you are willing to work and mentor students in horticulture through the Adopt-a-School program.

Take these steps to participate
  • Select a local high school to adopt and contact the principal or co-op teacher.
  • Communicate to them when you are available to help connect our industry with their school. LO can provide posters, literature and brochures.
  • Offer to assist the school with beautification projects, or sponsor a scholarship.
  • Mail your completed application form (http://bit.ly/adopt-a) to Ontario Horticultural Trades Association.
The amount of time you spend on the program is up to you. The Landscape Ontario Adopt-a-School Committee is there to assist you. Take a high school under your wing, create opportunities for our young people and build new relationships. The Adopt-a-School program is a great precursor for the apprenticeship program. Don’t miss out on this rewarding two-way benefit program for students and employers.