It is time for the government to support British tree and plant growers by taking action on current labor shortages. As Christmas fast approaches, Brits buy over 7.5 million real Christmas trees each year, and 50%-75% of those are produced in the UK. Where do these trees and all our seasonal plants and trees come from? The answer is a £1.6 billion-worth UK nursery production sector, which underpins the £28 billion British horticulture and landscaping sector, writes James Clark, Director of Policy and Communications at the Horticultural Trades Association.
Despite significant efforts, plant and tree nurseries are facing major challenges to recruit the workforce they need. They need to be included in the overseas Seasonal Workers scheme.
James Clark explains why modest and practical solutions to overseas temporary labor rules will make a significant and positive difference to the Government’s environmental plans to ‘green the economy’: "Plants and trees play a huge role in our society. They improve our air quality, prevent floods, and reduce heat in urban areas by providing shade. They contribute to positive mental and physical wellbeing. The reasons are endless, really."
All of this is delivered by a UK horticultural industry. It underpins almost half of the goals set out in the Government’s 25-year environment plan. It’s the ‘original green economy’. It’s a £28bn-value industry, supporting over 670,000 jobs across the country. A recent industry report, ‘Unlocking Green Growth’ found that there’s a potential £13bn boost to the economy by 2030 from horticulture and landscaping socio-economic growth.
There is a whole British supply chain at work and within this are British plant and tree nurseries. They produce a whopping £1.6bn-worth of plants and trees a year, supporting over 31,000 jobs.
Nonetheless, we’re still short of the seasonal workforce we need. HTA research has found that the industry is c3,000 workers (1,200 full time equivalents) short of temporary, seasonal workers.
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