P1901286: Ornamental Horticulture Sector Skills Survey

P1901286: Ornamental Horticulture Sector Skills Survey


The ornamental horticulture sector is diverse and includes a range of public and private sector employers comprising of, but not limited to, arboriculture, production horticulture, landscaping and professional gardening. This sector has vital importance to population health and wellbeing through the provision of leisure areas, as well as increasing biodiversity and improving the environment. With an estimated 300,000 people working in this sector, it is imperative that the industry remains viable and equipped for future growth. This can be achieved by supporting technical innovation, provision of a sustainable and adaptable workforce, clear training routes into the industry and ongoing skills development in all areas of the sector. However, the specific characteristics of the labour force in the ornamentals sector are not currently known and we would like to better understand the skills requirements of the industry.

During 2018 the group commissioned a pilot skills survey as a ‘proof of principle’ exercise. This did not involve a large sample group; so the data is not reliable and will not be published. The pilot did however demonstrate the potential benefit of a full scale survey and led to the development of this call for proposals.

Purpose/Primary objective

On behalf of the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group (OHRT) the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI), the Land Based Colleges Aspiring to Excellence (LANDEX), the Arboriculture Association (ABA), and the Chartered Institute of Horticulture (CIOH) wish to co-fund and commission a detailed skills survey to ascertain the skills needs of the ornamental horticulture industry across the UK. A range of stakeholders are involved in commissioning this project to reflect the range of employers within the ornamental horticulture sector.

The stakeholders hope that the in depth information about the current state of labour in the sector produced from this survey will help enable the UK ornamental industry to recognise how progress can be made in this sector. This will help in the achievement of the ornamental industry’s full labour potential and sustainability with a suitably skilled workforce, whilst enabling economic growth and raising of its profile as an attractive sector to work in. Results from this survey will help equip the OHRT and wider ornamentals sector to support the case for lobbying government and requests for funding, help inform on migratory advisory committee consultations and inform the training sector of the demand for training products in the horticulture sector. We hope this project will help with the attainment of a sufficient labour force post-Brexit and a skilled career pathway into the industry.


The survey should include and have sufficient representation from all ornamental horticulture industries/businesses – including:  propagators, cultivators, wholesalers, landscape services, historical site maintenance, biological gardens, arboriculture, garden retail etc. All sub-sectors of the industry should be included.

To achieve the above requirement, the contractor must:

  • have previous experience of skills survey work within the ornamental horticulture sector and an understanding of the sector “taxonomy” to ensure all areas are represented by their relative prominence within the sector

  • have experience in reporting on skills issues, across all sectors of industry, to government

  • highlight how they can deliver a detailed sampling system to ensure certain core groups/sub-sectors (as indicated above) are adequately represented

  • demonstrate they are in contact/have the ability to contact growers and relevant sector companies/industries to roll out the survey

  • be willing to coordinate with a working group with the relevant stakeholders for monthly updates during the course of the project.

In order to achieve this, a large sample size will need to be reached – in the region of 750 responses.

This survey should ultimately become a model and framework for wider commercial horticulture and land-based sectors.

Due consideration should be given to the most suitable times of year to conduct a survey in the industry and industry sub-sectors.

Specific Survey Objectives

  1. Understand the drivers of change affecting ornamental horticulture (including opportunities and constraints to growth) and how these are influencing employers’ skills needs

  2. Define the ornamental horticulture sector, including all relevant sub-sector industries, and estimate current and anticipated future UK workforce numbers, including additional and replacement demand

  3. Establish the profile of the horticulture workforce, including demographic information, ethnicity, qualifications attainment and working patterns

  4. Quantify the prevalence of skills shortage and recruitment difficulties at all levels (including hard-to-fill vacancies) and reasons why these are being experienced

  5. Identify the organisations that employers are using to provide training and highlight any gaps in training provision that can be identified by employers

  6. Quantify current skill levels and the future importance of those skills (using a skills-scoring approach), to determine future critical skills gaps and priority training needs

  7. Explore attitude, approaches and barriers to training

  8. Prepare recommendations, taking into account additional support needed to help the ornamental horticulture sector realise its full potential.


Survey results and analysis should be delivered to AHDB.

This should include an overarching report on the outcomes for the wider ornamental horticulture sector and also report down to sub-sector industries where relevant, with due attention to their prominence within the sector as a whole.

Outputs should be suitably structured to allow OHTR to share the outputs/information with the wider sector and other parties for the purposes of lobbying government and requests for funding.

All data collected should be made available to AHDB, should they wish to do further analysis after this work


The available budget for this work is up to a maximum of £50,000. Please note, value for money forms part of the assessment and evaluation criteria.

Completion and submission of the application form

Applicants should complete an AHDB Research and KE Application Form – Full Proposal Small, referring to the guidance notes to aid completion. 

Applications are made on the basis of the AHDB Research Funding Agreement and any organisation receiving funding shall comply with the terms and conditions specified in the RFA. AHDB will not be held responsible for any expenses or losses incurred by applicants in the preparation of an application(s).

Completed application forms should be submitted to research@ahdb.org.uk no later than 12:00 noon on 6 February 2019.

Proposed timings for application and project delivery

Full Proposal deadline

12:00 noon on 6 February 2019

There is no Concept or Expressions of Interest phase.

Make an electronic submission to research@ahdb.org.uk 

Receipt will be the time of receiving email.

Applications reviewed

Submissions will be evaluated internally by AHDB and with Industry Representatives 

Applicants informed of outcome

By 20 February 2019

Project commences

By 4 March 2019

Project completion

By 30 August 2019

If you have specific questions relating to this call, please email research@ahdb.org.uk .

All Questions & Answers will be published. As part of the open tender process, AHDB cannot discuss specific programme details prior to proposal submission.

Assessment Criteria

The assessment criteria detailed below will be used.

Evaluation of submissions

A number of criteria, summarised in the following, be will used to judge the quality of submissions received.

Programme outcomes – 25% 

  • The benefits and impact for industry are identified and realistic

  • Evident appropriateness and clarity of industry engagement, with sufficient representation from all ornamental horticulture sub-sectors

  • Timeframe qualified to deliver impact.

  • Identification of additional activities/resource required to deliver impact identified.

  • Key Performance Indicators identified.

0-10 score; weighting of 2.5

Technical approach and work plan – 30% 

  • Capacity to deliver a survey relevant to the ornamentals sector

  • Clear approach to the methodology - demonstrating how the proposed methodology will achieve the research objectives to deliver clear and statistically robust outcomes

  • Clarity of aims, objectives, work packages and achievable milestone schedule.

  • Demonstrable ability to contact relevant growers and industry representatives, with a clear strategy for maximising the survey response rate (~750 responses)

  • Ensure a sampling system to allow for adequate representation of ornamental horticulture sub-sectors

  • Plan to effectively collaborate/liaise with stakeholder working group

0-10 score; weighting of 3 

Relevant expertise – 30% 

  • Evidence of knowledge and expertise

  • Quality of past contributions, with added value through current and/or past contributions

  • Sufficient industry contact capability available to the team and the ability to communicate clearly with commercial growers/relevant industry representatives.

  • Delivery record on past funded work

  • Experience reporting on skills issues

  • Experience of working with and an understanding of the ornamentals sector.

  • Experiencing producing similar work for government

  • Project manager and supporting team experience in delivering similar skills projects in terms of methodology, sector, and communication objectives.

0-10 score; weighting of 3 

Programme costs – 15% 

  • Clearly defined, reasonable, necessary costs outlined

  • Resources for time, equipment and management transparently identified, with sufficient resources outlined to achieve project goals

  • Total budget adequate to carry out the proposed activities

0-10 score; weighting of 1.5

Any proposal that scores less than 50% overall in the evaluation process will be rejected to ensure that appropriate standards are met. AHDB reserves the right to liaise with the successful applicant to further develop proposal content as required.

For each of the four criteria under examination the following scoring system will be applied:



Exceptional quality; cutting-edge; highly likely to produce benefits/impact of great importance to the industry; highly innovative; impactful KE activities proposed; applicant is widely recognized in the field with an outstanding record of accomplishment; consortium is strong across all technical areas needed to accomplish the proposed outcomes. Strongly recommend support


Very good

High quality; potential to make an important contribution; innovative; likely to produce significant benefits/ impact for the industry; impactful KE activities proposed; applicant has a good reputation in the field; consortium appears to have more than adequate expertise across all technical areas required to deliver the proposed outcomes. Strongly recommend support



Interesting; innovative; likely to produce good benefits/impact; good grasp of appropriate KE activities; applicant has a solid reputation in the field; consortium appears to have adequate expertise across all technical areas required to deliver the proposed outcomes. Should be supported



Interesting but little originality; likelihood of making significant impact is small; may require significant additional investment to deliver benefits; applicant/team lacks experience, has not established leadership in the field or demonstrated the potential to make impactful contributions. Support may be considered if strong in other areas



Poor quality; not well planned; lacking expertise; not feasible; unlikely to make an important contribution to fundamental or applied knowledge; unlikely to produce benefits/impact; lacking convincing evidence that the proposing team has sufficient and appropriate expertise to accomplish all of the tasks as outlined in the proposal. Should not be supported


Very poor

Very poor quality; duplicative of other work; fails to address the issues; no evidence for demand; cannot be judged against the criterion due to missing or incomplete information. Should not be supported