Let’s face it: As a result of the lack of knowledge available to people about the landscape industry and the career potential within, its image is tainted. This is particularly true with younger generations. “Students and parents think it’s a dirty job and that you don’t make any money in landscaping; we just have this stigma, if you will,” explains Callan Dudley, accounting/ human resources coordinator, Southern Landscape Group, Evington, Virginia, and an NALP member. But the landscape industry has an opportunity here.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials (ages 20 to 35 as of 2016 data) will surpass baby boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation this year, and generation Xers (ages 36 to 51 in 2016) will surpass them by 2028.

While the market for workers is competitive, this

proves availability isn’t the single source of the landscape industry’s labor crisis. People are available; they just aren’t applying for landscape jobs. “Manufacturing and construction jobs attract more people because people see them working on a big, amazing building or creating a product in a warehouse, but landscaping doesn’t carry that same image in people’s minds,” Myers explains. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t list landscaping specifically as an occupational group in its data, most related fields are projecting increases. The agency reports that by 2022 building and grounds maintenance occupations will increase 12.5 percent; con- struction occupations will increase 21.4 percent; installa- tion, maintenance and repair occupations will increase 9.5 percent; and farming and forestry occupations will decrease 3.4 percent.

“Students and parents think it’s a dirty job and that you don’t make any money in landscaping; we just have this stigma, if you will.”

–Callan Dudley

accounting/human resources coordinator Southern Landscape Group

Landscape business owners can solve this problem by continuing to educate younger generations on the many jobs and opportunities the industry provides. Southern Landscape Group is trying to solve this problem by partnering with a local technical center to provide a paid short course for high school students. Last year, the four-day short course ran from 8:30 to 1:30 each day. Students provided their own lunches and transpor- tation and they received hands-on experience working with difference crews and crew leaders. For instance, last year students installed large brick planters and two paver patios, as well as turf and mulch, on the technical center grounds. They also got to use a variety of heavy machin- ery. Each morning started in a classroom where crews shared tips on the upcoming tasks for the day as well as safety standards. At the end of the course, parents were invited to attend an awards ceremony that flaunted and honored students’ work. In 2017, Southern Landscape Group had room for 12 students; 11 signed up and 10 participated. Of that group, six students became company interns and one became a full-time employee that is still working there today. In 2018, the company switched the venue of the short course to its own office; eight signed up and four actually completed the course. Two became company interns in the summer, and another one of the students from 2017 became a Southern Landscape Group employee after high school graduation. “These students who took the short course became the most engaged interns we’ve ever had, and now we have two new employees as a result,” Dudley explains, describing the course as successful so far for helping spread the word about local landscape industry opportunities to high school students and providing the company with two solid hires.



According to a recent College and Career Readiness survey of 165,000 high school students, fewer than half feel they’re ready for college and careers. Only 46 percent feel their schools have helped them figure out which careers match their interests and abilities. “Teachers are so focused on the testing they must conduct that they have no time to focus on life skills,” Dudley says. To help teachers fill this void, Dudley partnered with local educators to have herself or another Southern Land- scape Group representative present in the classroom once a month for the past year to teach 100 to 120 children

Workforce Development continues on p.24 2 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LANDSCAPE PROFESSIONALS 23

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40