October 15, 2008
By Sally Harvey CLT, CLP
Education and Labour Development Department

Sally HarveyConnecting employers to employees in the landscape industry is a huge challenge. Landscape Ontario is working hard on behalf of our members to develop systems and synergies to solve the labour shortage issue.

First, Landscape Ontario has a fantastic resource at Horttrades.com by simply going to www.landscapetrades.com/c?c=387 (if reading this column in the online version of Horticulture Review, simply click on the address and it will take you automatically to the site). This resource provides the opportunity for employers to advertise Employment Opportunities, and another link for those searching for work to advertise under Employment Wanted (www.landscapetrades.com/c?c=390). I urge you to go online, if you haven’t already, to investigate these opportunities.

This resource also helps us show the government that we are in fact in desperate need of additional workers, and that there is indeed a labour shortage. Once this is proven, we will have the ability to create progressive programs to generate labour for our industry.

As we compete with over 150 registered trades, and even more career opportunities offered by colleges and universities, attracting young people to our industry is a tall order. It can be accomplished if we all do our part. Also, as many already know, one of Terry Murphy’s legacies is the Adopt a High School Program. This has become an easy path for the green industry to connect with high school students.

Did you know that there are more than 800 secondary schools in Ontario? Within these schools, many students and staff are completely unaware of opportunities within the green industry. Our Education and Labour Development Department at Landscape Ontario is small, yet mighty. However, we cannot possibly reach all of these schools and students without your help. We urge you to consider adopting a school in your area today, if you have not already done so.

If you have adopted a school, please re-connect with the school this fall season. The students are nicely settled in at this point. Careers, co-op and guidance teachers will be delighted to hear from you. Connect with your school by offering a scholarship, or offer to speak to students in class. Landscape Ontario will provide you with an easy-to-use power point program that you can simply present to the students to help guide your presentation of our industry. By doing this, you will present the green industry and your company as an amazing opportunity for their future. We all love what we do in the landscape/horticulture industry, so go in and energize the students with your passion!

Yet another opportunity often will present itself when you become involved with a school. Most schools are home to rather pathetic-looking grounds — what I call an outdoor landscape classroom just waiting for the touch of enthusiastic, engaged students when led by a green industry professional. Many schools also have gardens in place that need attention, so this too presents an opportunity to develop our future workforce. The list goes on in regards to the opportunities to build a future workforce through building these new relationships.

Customize your school commitment to fit your needs and schedule. I urge you to complete and submit the Adopt a School application form today. Contact your school and get organized during the slow season to make contact with your local workforce. Don’t hesitate to contact me, should you need any assistance.

Employer registry

There is a new and exciting opportunity for the landscape industry’s employers across Ontario, who would like to connect with tomorrow’s workforce. Developed earlier this year by the Halton Industry Education Council, the employer registry may be accessed at www.employerregistry.ca. It is a free online service that will revolutionize the way employers and educators connect. The system provides a point of contact for those looking to get involved with educational programs, including career talks, workplace tours, co-operative education placements and the new Specialist High Skills Majors.

The EmployerRegistry.ca is monitored by qualified coordinators, and is extremely easy to use. Registration takes less than a minute.

Once you set up your account you will be able to:
  • Manage your involvement and easily offer new forms of learning opportunities for students
  • Access local educators and students
  • Extend learning beyond the classroom by opening the doors to your workplace and allowing students to experience the world of work
  • Discover and train your future workforce

EmployerRegistry.ca makes it easier than ever for employers to provide life-shaping experiences for students and help them make informed career decisions. Log on today and find out more about how employers, educators and Passport to Prosperity coordinators are coming together to support students as they make the transition from school to career.

In the past, our department has attended many job fairs and visited many schools all over the province. However, because of the time factor not enough schools and students are reached. Going forward, our department aims to circulate invitations to our members who are situated near to these events, in order for them to attend with or without a representative from Landscape Ontario. This will allow you to build relationships and hopefully make connections with our youth, which in turn will help resolve the labour shortage issue. Landscape Ontario can provide an easy-to-set-up tabletop booth. All you need is your business cards, employment applications and any brochures that you wish to share with potential employees.

The Education and Labour Development Department at Landscape Ontario is excited about the potential of all of these initiatives. We know that with your active participation, we will indeed make better employment connections with our youth.
Sally Harvey can be reached at sharvey@landscapeontario.com