February 8, 2021
On the right path
Hailey Kim and her employer both benefit from new industry program
“Just about from the minute I met Hailey, I knew she would be a great fit for our team,” said Janca, a horticulture technician team lead with Yorkshire Garden Services.
They met in September, when Janca and Yorkshire’s owner Lindsay Drake Nightingale visited Landscape Ontario’s training facility to meet with the first cohort of GROW Program participants.
“I was so impressed by the GROW Program,” Janca said. “They brought us in as potential employers and gave us a really comprehensive overview of what the students had been learning, and I was floored by how much they were able to pack into the four week program.”
After the orientation, employers had a chance to meet participants one on one.
“I wish I could have 10 Hailey’s on our team.”
— Elissa Janca
“They made it so easy for us to meet the students, and interact in a safe way, even in a pandemic,” Janca said. “Hailey and I walked through the trial gardens, and we talked about horticulture and plants. She was able to show me plants she had personally pruned. I just thought, this is so perfect. This is such a nice way to meet prospective employees.”
Yorkshire Garden Services hired two new employees that afternoon, bringing Hailey and another GROW Program participant on board for the fall season.
It worked out well for the grounds maintenance company based in Toronto, Ont.
“I wish I could have 10 Hailey’s on our team,” Janca said.
The GROW Program “is designed to close the gap on in-demand jobs/talent requirements identified by employers,” explained Sally Harvey, Landscape Ontario Director of Education and Workforce Development. “The program provides a four-week basic technical and employment skills training program, serving employers entry level workers who aspire to enter the landscape and horticulture profession.”
Harvey added, “the program is intended to attract youth, newcomers, adults, women and provide training and employment opportunities to job seekers who may have experienced labour market challenges. Interested employers are invited to contact the program manager, Andrea Annis to learn more about the opportunity.”
“I think one of the strengths of the program is that the participants are pre-screened,” Drake Nightingale said. “They’re not just coming in to just check it out. And once they’re in the program, they get some really important basic skills like WHMIS and health and safety training.”
Even more important than the technical skills, Drake Nightingale said, was the positive attitude participants showed. “They have this eagerness and attitude that is so upbeat and positive, that they just want to learn,” she said. “They came in asking questions. They were gung-ho.”
Drake Nightingale said the experience was positive with both GROW Program grads the company brought on board. They plan to participate with the program again in 2021.
For Hailey Kim, the GROW Program and working with Yorkshire Garden Services was a great career stepping stone.
Kim graduated with a Master of Forest Conservation from the University of Toronto in 2020, and is interested in pursuing a career where she can make a positive impact on the environment.
When she found out about the GROW Program, Kim thought it would be a good way to gain some hands-on experience and technical skills.
“It was a really good experience for me,” Kim said. “It was exactly what I was looking for. Practical skills. I learned a lot about landscaping and horticulture, and I really enjoyed the hands-on aspects, including the planting, pruning, mulching, weeding and fertilizing.”
While Kim plans to pursue a career in the forestry sector down the line, she is looking forward to returning to Yorkshire Garden Services in spring. She also decided to enroll in the Horticulture Technician Apprenticeship Program at Humber College, to continue adding to her skills and knowledge over the winter months.
For its part, Yorkshire Garden Services will be glad to welcome Kim in spring.
“I’m thrilled Hailey will be returning this year,” Janca said. “I’m really excited to see where her career goes. But from my perspective, as long as Hailey wants to work with us, I am more than happy to have her.”