Official Opening of Thanet Earth Centre of Excellence in Greenhouse Growing at Hadlow College

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Local Skills Improvement Plan
by Sarah Parrish

A new education centre developed to inspire and train the next generation of UK salad and vegetable growers was officially opened by Roger Gough, leader of Kent County Council on Wednesday 5th June.

The Thanet Earth Centre of Excellence at Hadlow College is the UK’s first Centre of Excellence in glasshouse growing and marks a ground breaking partnership between Hadlow College, Thanet Earth and Growing Kent & Medway.  It will connect the higher education institute with the horticulture sector and promises to bring a new generation of greenhouse technical specialists to the industry, protecting the future of UK-grown fresh produce.

The Centre  was opened in response to concerns about the lack of skilled workers in the sector.

Rob James, Technical Director, Thanet Earth, said: “Food security in the UK depends on inspiring the next generation of talent into our industry. We rely on skilled and passionate people to drive innovation and help to make delicious and nutritious UK-grown fresh produce available in your local food stores.

“There are incredible careers available across the fresh produce supply chain. Collaboration between education and industry is critical to changing perceptions of the sector and ensuring young people develop relevant, practical, and employable skills.”

Alan Harvey, Head of Horticulture, Hadlow College, said: “This partnership offers our students a unique education experience. The close relationship between our college and the commercial horticultural sector means our students can experience the latest commercial growing techniques in our cutting-edge glasshouse facilities. Not only does this provide depth and enrichment to their education, but it will also enable our students to graduate with skills and experience that will be very attractive to employers.”

Dr Nikki Harrison, Director for Growing Kent & Medway, a partner in the initiative, said: “Having the UK’s first Centre of Excellence here in Kent will ensure we have the pipeline of new talent and skills required to keep our region at the forefront of horticultural innovation.

“Linking industry with education ensures that the training provided reflects the latest crop production techniques and knowledge available in modern growing practices. We hope this is the first of many collaborations between industry and further education to address the critical skills shortage our industry faces.”

For more information on the Centre, the cutting edge technology and the courses available at the facility please click here.