Capel Manor College (CMC) held its first Floristry Employer Roundtable Event at New Covent Garden Market on May 16th, as part of its ongoing commitment to future-proof its students by providing them with the right skill sets to go out and make an impact in the business world.
Head of School Floristry and Event Styling, Louise Quigley told attendees: “We want to make sure our Level 1-5 floristry courses are equipped to drive florists into the industry. This event is to help us understand how the industry is evolving – the trends and changes. Is there something missing, are there skills gaps that we as a college can take on board?”
Four Student Ambassadors told the meeting about their experiences at Capel Manor:
Each woman extolled the virtues of the college, but they all agreed that the industry needs to get involved on a much grander scale to increase the relevance of the training. Siobhan said what is lacking amongst the younger students is “people skills and a can-do attitude” and that meaningful industry input could help to alter that. Julie said people across the industry should “take the students into their care and teach them what they know”, adding “I don’t think we can be prepared enough for what comes next without that.”
All of the employers present were asked to fill in a form explaining the structure of their business and detailing the types of skills they felt would be most would be most relevant to fill their skills gaps.
Freddie Heathcote, a Director of Green & Bloom at New Covent Garden Flower Market, gave a talk about his business and the market, and Bryan Porter, Managing Director of Porters Foliage, underlined the importance of making training as relevant as possible and preparing students for the reality of the workplace. “There is a need to set people’s expectations of the job they are going to end up doing,” he said. “There is a view that floristry is a glamorous job – some of it can be, but however successful or famous you might become, it’s not all glamour, it’s hard, it’s difficult,” he said. “Floristry isn’t going to get any easier; we need students to have experience of as diverse a cross-section of the industry as possible – it’s not just about making a bouquet or a hand-tie.”
Other speakers included Nikki Meader, Chair of the British Florist Association, who interestingly revealed that her father traded for many years out of the Growers’ Pavilion at NCGM, and Chris Jones, City & Guilds Industry Manager for Land, who explained government educational reforms that will fundamentally change the way further education is delivered in England, with the introduction of new ‘T Level’s’. Both agreed that increased industry input is key to ensuring that floristry training institutions are capable of producing successful students who leave properly geared up for a career in floristry.