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Achievable Gardens People’s Choice Award ‘Balance by Nature’ by Gina Robertson, Melbourne Polytechnic at Melbourne international Flower & Garden Show 2022 (Image: Karen Smith)
Education

Great reasons to consider a career in landscaping

By Madeleine Stedman and Jodie Dean

The opportunities and benefits of a trade career have never been greater for young people finishing school and entering the workforce. In the past, the university sector has been touted as the best pathway to a successful career. If you were a good student with your eye on the future, keen to begin a challenging, stable career with good earning potential, typically you were steered towards university. However, as we all know, university is not for everyone especially with so many pathways now available.

It’s estimated that Australians will have an average of thirteen jobs in their lifetime, so undertaking a trade now, far from precludes someone undertaking university study in the future. It may even be to their advantage. The thought of a desk job is the furthest thing from many school-leavers’ minds, let alone the dream. With such a large skills demand and many shortages, these days the smart money is on a future in one of the trade industries. And landscaping is right up there as an excellent and rewarding choice, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction. Here are ten stand-out reasons students should consider a career in landscaping.

The great outdoors

As we mentioned, desk jobs are not everyone’s cup of tea. Many people, particularly young people, want to do something that makes them happy, contributes to the wider community, and still has the ability to earn them a living. This is where landscaping comes into its own and all without being stuck behind a desk. There’s no doubt that landscaping careers, particularly landscape contracting or maintenance, can be hard yakka. Have no illusions, you need to be fit and your hands will get dirty, but you will also have the chance to drink up the sunshine, fresh air and the mental and physical benefits of interacting with nature.

Variety

No two jobs and no two days are the same in the landscaping sector. Few fields offer the variety of skills and experiences that landscaping can, and there’s never a dull moment. For example, landscape contractors can expect to learn a vast range of skills, such as carpentry, horticulture, tiling, paving, concreting, fencing, maintenance, and for those who are keen, heavy machinery operation and business skills, to name just a few. The further you take your career, the harder you work and study, the greater your range of experience. In landscaping, it’s all about reward for effort. And, should landscaping turn out to be not quite the right fit, you are already on the road to good alternatives, such as carpentry, without skipping a beat.

The skills shortage

The recent trend towards university study has led to very low uptake rates for many trade apprenticeships, leading to a massive skills shortage in Australia. Opportunities now abound in the trade sectors and government are very keen to support apprenticeships, with Landscaping listed on the Australian Apprenticeships Priority List again in 2022. Trade businesses are crying out for apprentices and clients are paying top dollar for skilled trade professionals. Horticultural enrolments are at their lowest number in history, while ironically, the demand for skilled gardeners and qualified landscapers has never been higher. Those joining the sector will certainly find that their skills are in demand, even more so since the onset of COVID. With more people spending time at home, and money saved due to the inability to go out for entertainment or travel, many are keen to invest in their outdoor spaces. Priorities have shifted to a focus on quality time spent with family and friends at home, with outdoor entertainment and resort-style living becoming extremely popular. Quite simply, the landscaping industry is booming!

Earn while you learn

Most entry-level landscaping careers such as landscape contracting, landscape maintenance or landscaping parks and gardens, are studied as an apprenticeship. This means that the students undertake formal study at a registered training organisation part-time, whilst gaining hands-on experience ‘on the tools’ in the field. One of the greatest advantages of this, is the ability to earn and learn simultaneously. Many school leavers are keen to start earning money right away and studying a trade offers the opportunity to achieve this. Comparatively, many university degree pathways require a minimum of three years full time study, whereas someone pursuing landscaping studies can complete their apprenticeship and be fully qualified in four years whilst having earned good wages all the way through.

There is no limit to how far you can take your skills in a career in landscape (Image Karen Smith)
There is no limit to how far you can take your skills in a career in landscape (Image Karen Smith)

Jobs and careers to suit almost everyone

The sheer variety of jobs available in the landscaping sector is enormous and not always understood. As well as a range of career paths to choose from, there are also any number of settings in which to perform them. Also, many professionals select to undertake further study at appropriate stages of their careers allowing them to specialise and grow their earning potential. Some of the careers on offer include landscape contracting, maintenance, horticulture, parks and gardens, landscape design and landscape architects. Specialties could include pool building and refurbishment, or specialist turfing or irrigation. Landscape businesses also vary greatly with the choice between large or small operations, commercial or residential work, and urban or rural locations. You could find yourself working on a giant government infrastructure project or rehabilitating a small garden or parkland; whatever floats your boat. Finally, landscape professionals are needed everywhere, so your skills are very portable, meaning you can move around and always find employment.

Creativity

Many of us would love the opportunity to indulge our creative sides whilst being paid for the privilege. For those looking for a creative career, landscaping can afford daily scope for following your passion. From hardscapes to softscapes, you can explore endless textures, colours and materials palettes, not to mention the chance to create vistas and spaces to be explored and enjoyed. From native to exotic plants, beach chic to formal, curated elegance, no two gardens are the same and each one represents a fresh canvas.

Caring for our environment

Landscaping offers a unique way to caretake our natural environments. Landscape professionals are afforded daily opportunities to preserve our natural ecosystems and reduce our urban footprint. Best-practice techniques call for the use of sustainable solutions in modern landscaping, to the use of composting, recycled materials, natural weed and pest treatments, and irrigation. Every day, the innovative Australian landscaping industry seeks to nourish our environment, educate our clients and leave a lasting legacy for future generations. Could there be a better goal?

Women are joining the trades

Once upon a time, the trade sectors were considered the exclusive domain of men but, happily, this is no longer the case. Women are flocking to the trades in droves, loving the freedom to mix creativity with maths and science like few other industries can. From landscape design through to construction, the contributions of women are being eagerly embraced and their passion encouraged.

Pride and impact

Many students, when asked, seek a career where they feel they can make a difference and be proud of their achievements. There are few areas of endeavour that can offer these rewards more than landscaping. Most landscapers love what they do and are passionate about their knowledge and craftsmanship.  Who wouldn’t love the ability to create beautiful landscapes that nurture our communities, that feed people’s ‘body and soul’, and contribute endlessly to our connection with the natural world? Landscapers feel a quiet pride and deep satisfaction in developing these spaces, nurturing them and then seeing them grow and mature over time.

As the saying goes, ‘If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.’

The sky is the limit

Our final reason for considering landscaping as a career will appeal particularly to the more ambitious students. Landscaping is a realm where there is no limit to how far you can take your skills. For the studious types with a flair for horticulture, there is always more to learn and new varieties to discover. For those with a dream of creating their own empire, the ability to launch a new business, hone your business acumen and shoot for the stars is highly achievable. Landscaping is a supportive industry and by joining an industry body, you can network with fellow professionals and access all the help you need to be successful.

In NSW and the ACT, The Landscape Association is the peak industry body and offers members a range of benefits to help their business thrive. Mentoring, skills seminars, tailor-made landscaping administrative tools and services, client contracts and WHS videos are just the beginning.

So, if you have students searching for a rewarding, creative and invigorating career with a strong and reliable future, look no further than the range of modern landscaping professions.

If you would like more information on apprenticeships or how to support students looking to embark on the landscaping path, visit www.landscapeassociation.com.au

Author Madeleine Stedman and Jodie Dean, CEO

The Landscape Association

E: jodie@landscapeassociation.com.au

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