Leading commercial nursery Johnsons of Whixley is nurturing the leaders of the future through an innovative in-house training scheme.
The latest crop of delegates for the company’s Growing Stars programme has just been chosen, with six employees – Tom Chilton, Richard Csyani, Andrew Nicholls, Wiktor Zygnaki, Kieron Pattison and Ned Antonov – selected to participate.
Growing Stars was first introduced by Yorkshire-based Johnsons five years ago with the aim of developing the skillset of existing staff members to enable them to one day take on a more senior role within the business. The company has made a significant financial investment in the programme to ensure its success.
Located in North Yorkshire, away from the UK’s traditional horticultural heartland, the initiative will help to drive the continued growth of the family business, that celebrates its centenary next year and is a trusted supplier of plants and trees to the landscape, infrastructure and retail sectors in the UK.
Growing Stars is open to staff from all parts of the business and includes training experiences, technical modules, horticultural sessions, operational nursery activities, as well as the opportunity to earn a formal qualification in team leading.
The programme is being delivered in conjunction with external training providers and includes a mixture of on-site training and external activities, including learning from supply and technology partners. Candidates work in various departments across the business and are assessed continuously.
Mentoring the growing stars is Ian Nelson, who will draw on his experience as production manager at Johnsons to guide the delegates through the various challenges to ensure they are equipped with the skills and knowledge they will need as managers of the future.
One graduate of the scheme is Terry Cooper. Terry started his Johnsons career with the plant production team at Cattal; however, after progressing through the Growing Stars programme, he now works in the IT department alongside manager Darren Earle. His role includes maintaining and updating hardware and software, providing user support, system testing and cyber security.
Terry said: “I found the program a great help and have it partly to thank for ending up working where I am today. After finishing the course, I had a better understanding of horticulture as an industry and acquired some really helpful practical skills and theoretical knowledge.”
New delegate Andrew Nicholls commented: “I’m looking forward to where this could take me in the company and the new skills I could learn.”
Graham Richardson, group managing director said the future of the business was intrinsically linked with the abilities of the workforce.
“Geographically we are isolated from the main hubs of horticultural activity and consequently the vast majority of relevant training programmes. It made perfect sense therefore for us to draw on our considerable experience to create our own bespoke training scheme that will help us nurture the next generation of managers and supervisors.
“We are confident that within our own pool of employees, there is the talent to lead us towards the future.”