The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has seen close to a 25% increase in applications for its diploma in Horticultural Practice, nearly six times as many applicants as places.
For the second year running the majority (57% in 2022) of applicants are female.
Suzanne Moss, RHS Head of Education and Learning said: “It is fantastic to see another year of growth in RHS education.
“More and more people are drawn to the horticulture industry as they see the benefits from the variety of careers our training and courses can lead to.
“Seeing the increase in diploma applicants, who already have experience in the horticulture industry, is especially encouraging as we face the challenge of filling the skills gap for supervisory, specialist and technical roles in horticulture.
“We hope that an increasing focus on the natural world, environmental protection and personal and societal wellbeing will continue to encourage more people to enter the horticultural industry as a career.”
The horticulture industry is currently worth £28.8bn to the UK economy, with the potential to grow to £42bn while supporting 763,000 jobs by 2030.
As well as being an economic powerhouse for the UK, the industry will be able to boost rural economies and drive new urban jobs in maintaining vital green spaces.
The UK’s gardens provide a vast range of benefits to the environment, health and wellbeing, and economy.
Horticulturists will have an important role to play in combating the climate and biodiversity crises, with this reflected in the learning content of RHS qualifications.
Students undertaking the two-year course will study at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, rotating through ten different departments in the gardens as they train, in addition to attending lectures and masterclasses.
Diploma students will also gain national qualifications in subjects across the horticultural spectrum, from tractor driving to tree inspection.
The learning experience also offers unique opportunities such as helping out at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a local design and build project and visits to numerous gardens.
There are also bursary opportunities in the UK and abroad.
To undertake an RHS diploma, candidates must have work experience in professional horticulture and a minimum of a Level Two horticulture qualification.
Students receive an overview of all aspects of horticulture, with the chance to study a topic of their choosing in-depth in their dissertation at the end of the course.
In addition to the diploma, practical training at the five RHS Gardens include apprenticeships and specialist horticultural placements, and learners can also apply for RHS-accredited qualifications at over 80 centres across the UK as well as a series of informal workshops hosted at RHS gardens.
Further information about the RHS educational offering can be found on the RHS website at: www.rhs.org.uk/education-learning and by following @RHS_learning