World Horti Center as a breeding ground - World Horti Center
05.06.2019

World Horti Center as a breeding ground

Between Goes and Amsterdam, there are only 80 horticultural students available for a middle management position, even though there is enough work for about 250.

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."

Students

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."

Internship companies

"We are also selective about internship companies for the same reason. Of course, it is not acceptable for a student to be used as a cheap labour during their internship. We set clear requirements for an internship company. They must always offer added value when it comes to the development and professionalisation of the student. Through variety, sound guidance, depth, perspective and a positive experience, you will also create ambassadors for your company. It's good for your image and for motivated future employees. We expect an internship company to be able to distinguish between long and short term, sector interests and company interests.

Future employees

De Gier: "The student, the school and the internship company each play their part in the triangle. The role of the internship company should not be underestimated. As well as providing practical experience, companies often fill the 'blind spots' in our knowledge offering, such as digitisation and market development. These are parts that are difficult for a school to teach. The companies provide guest lectures and excursions, also for teachers, and they participate in teaching assignments. We do the PR together, and we are often assisted by students who are happy to share their internship experiences. We are incredibly grateful to our internship companies for all their work. Their efforts are indispensable to turn our students into well-trained employees, who we can then retain for the green sector."

Published in de Bloemenkrant on 14-05-2019

Text and photos: Walter Landesbergen