Back in November, I was asked by Landscape Ontario to partner with Aspire on a career exploration event for the Landscaping and Horticultural sector. As the Youth Engagement & Events Coordinator here at First Work, I’m always excited to hear from new voices and industries; however – to be completely honest – I was skeptical.
Maybe you’re thinking what I was thinking. Isn’t landscaping a summertime job? Are landscaping jobs even available in the winter? Is landscaping a real career path?
At that time, I had no idea what careers in the ‘landscaping & horticulture sector’ looked like. Naturally, my initial thoughts jumped to mowing grass and planting flowers.
This quickly changed in my first meeting with Landscape Ontario (LO). Thanks to their passion for the sector and willingness to educate others, I had a newfound appreciation for the industry. I left the meeting inspired and knew I had to bring awareness to the amazing opportunities in this sector. And so – Aspire to GROW was born!
Here’s the top takeaways I learned about the sector during our event.
Ignore the Stigma
A career in landscaping definitely holds some stigma. There’s often a misconception about what a career in this field can look like, and people often jump to conclusions. “Oh, you work in landscaping? So, you’re a gardener?” While yes, for some this might be true, the reality is a career in landscaping can be many things – most importantly, an extremely exciting and
hands on career! Particularly if the 9-5 office job isn’t the right fit for you, a career in landscaping might be worth exploring – especially if you enjoy the great outdoors.
Earn While You Learn
You don’t need to spend four years preparing for a career in horticulture and landscaping. This sector is huge on ‘learn while you earn’ because there are jobs needed to be filled yesterday – like jobs in Grounds Management, Nursery and Field Crop Production.
Also, many of the training programs within the sector prioritize on-site learning, paid apprenticeships and placements. (If you’re on the hunt for work now, you might want to check out the GROW program.)
Getting your feet wet with real work experience in this sector can help you to pivot into other industries in the future. For example, many people who started in the landscaping branched into other areas including agriculture and cannabis.
Ninway Aziz, one of the event panelists, began as a gardener and now managers the estate grounds for one of Toronto’s most popular tourist destinations – Casa Loma. As the Horticulturist Supervisor, she’s not just responsible for overseeing the grounds, but she’s working on film sets too! Casa Loma has been used for filming movies and shows like Titans and The Handmaid’s Tail – which Ninway helped to design! – which goes to show how expansive horticulturist work can be.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, looking for jobs that are deemed essential is a safe bet – meaning no matter how long the pandemic lasts, you have job security! Most work in this sector is essential and the work environments inherently lend themselves to COVID-safety (thanks to the great outdoors!). Landscape Ontario, the association group for the sector, has even put together a safety taskforce to ensure employees in the sector are kept safe and COVID-free at work.
Environmentally conscious career
Climate change is already impacting the world as we know it, but did you know careers in horticulture are inherently environmentally conscious? It turns out, the theory of conservation is wholly mixed into to the training provided by Landscape Ontario and similar groups, emphasizing the long-term environmental, economic and lifestyle benefits of preserving green spaces. This means you can work and do your part for the environment all in one.
About Aspire to GROW:
In partnership with Landscape Ontario, Aspire hosted a career exploration in late January called, Aspire to GROW. The event kicked off with a panel discussion of varying industry experts to introduce different fields in the sector. The event continued in networking breakout rooms with those panelists for direct QAs from participants. Because lockdown has made finding opportunities to grow yourself so much more difficult, career exploration events like Aspire to GROW are not just a way to learn & get excited about opportunities previously unknown, but to put into practice the networking skills left dormant during lockdown.
Next month, we’ll be utilizing the same ‘high-touch’ engagement format for a deep dive into the world of Entrepreneurship!