De Bloemenkrant talks to Atie de Gier, director of MBO Westland. The MBO has been based at World Horti Center since its opening. They have around 1,100 students in total, with 375 students taking the green course at Lentiz. "That is not very many," according to De Gier, which is clearly an understatement. We have an immediate and urgent problem to tackle: the image of the green sector.
De Gier: "The majority of our green students share common ground with the sector, some more than others. Recruiting from outside is more difficult; but there are opportunities if we can improve our image. However, we are fighting against preconceptions. The idea persists that jobs in the green sector are mainly about production, are physically demanding, poorly paid and uninteresting. We see things differently. The green sector is innovative, international and chain wide. It is an important sector for our economy and it also contributes to people and the world. We train our students for this sector."
De Gier: "The World Horti Center must be both a breeding ground and a meeting place for young talent, as well as a place to flourish and become professional craftspeople. To achieve this, we focus our education on self-confidence for students, entrepreneurship and internationalisation. Self-confidence, in particular, plays an important role in their development. That's why the international aspect and one compulsory international internship work so well. Literally crossing borders requires courage, adaptability and self-reflection. It is wonderful to see how students deal with other cultures, customs, behaviours and situations. It is very formative. We had to convince some parents of this need for internationalisation. That is why we organise meetings for parents as well as students and internship companies. An insight into our philosophy increases their involvement in their child's studies. And that is part of creating an optimal learning climate."