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BALI-NCF LandscapeSummit at FutureScape

 

The first ever BALI-NCF LandscapeSummit – ‘Planning for the Future’, attracted a capacity audience of maintenance contractors at this year’s FutureScape in the presence of three figurehead speakers.

Forum chairman Phil Jones (managing director of ISS Facilities Services) introduced speakers Andrew Gill of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture and industry consultant Mike Windsor before declaring the meeting as a ‘springboard’ for group members to work together in future.

“The session ‘Planning for the Future’ proved to be hugely beneficial with two well respected and expert speakers highlighting some of the core issues facing the public sector grounds maintenance industry today, particularly in light of the existing economic climate,” said Phil Jones.

The CIH’s president Andrew Gill opened the forum by proudly revealing how the Institute achieved a Royal Charter in July 2014 and resultantly developed the reputation of horticulture as a profession.

Andrew detailed how the Royal Charter has aided the Institute’s drive to improve the perception of horticulture and press for it to be included in the national curriculum.

The Royal Charter was awarded at a welcome time after the confirmation of the industry-wide skills gap in May 2013, following a survey of 200 horticultural practices. The survey concluded that the industry doesn’t attract enough young people and that a change in its media image is necessary for interest levels to improve.

Experienced industry professional Mike Windsor later spoke of recently enforced changes on the maintenance industry such as council budget cuts and jointly managed local authority contracts, impacting on contractors as a result.

Mike outlined how the economic climate has placed greater demand on the contractor with them expected to deliver more for less. Contractors are facing pressure to go beyond the terms of its contract and develop public infrastructure in addition to carrying out additions for no extra payment.

As a solution, Mike concluded that in future contractors must work harder to understand both the requirements of the client and end user. He also urged the audience to invest in developing its own employees, a view shared by Phil Jones who envisions the formation of one college representing the industry to provide in-house training with verification.

Phil added: “As Chairman of BALI-NCF, I would like to extend a huge thank you to both Eljays44 and FutureScape for providing the facilities which allowed the Landscape Summit to take place.”

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