US: COME TOGETHER TO FIX THE GREENHOUSE INDUSTRY EDUCATION SYSTEM
To spark the debate on the immense shortage of trained growers and skilled labor force, a new Think Tank has been created by several parties within the greenhouse industry. In this open letter, initiator Julie Vijverberg explains why it is important to join her in the conversation how to reconstruct the U.S. greenhouse industry education system and optimize its adaptation to present day technologies and production practices.
Hello Greenhouse Industry,
My name is Julie Gilbert- Vijverberg and I am the owner of G&V Greenhouse Solutions. I am reaching out today to begin the long overdue conversation of how the greenhouse industry needs trained growers and skilled labor force from universities. Pull up a chair and join me in this conversation!
I’m positive you have been directly or indirectly effected by the shortage of growers in the United States. I currently have colleges onboard in creating courses to fit our industries need. We as an industry need to invest in our future thru our universities. I have created a think tank of several industry leaders (Owners, Operators, Growers, & General Managers) & value your knowledge, experience, and thoughts to include you to this consortium.
Thru numerous conversations, I have heard the same theme in what the industry wants university graduates to show up to the job with. Please note the themes are not limited to the following list:
• Introduction to Greenhouse Management Systems (Hoogendoorn, Priva, and Hortimax)
• Light Schedules
• Pest Identification and Management
• Food Safety
• Plant Pathology
• Energy/Shading Curtains – how and why they are used
• Evaluating Water Analysis and Making Recipe Changes
• Crop Disease and Deficiency Identification and Correction
• Running the Greenhouse
I have universities in the Netherlands and United States teaming up with us. I value your opinion as you are a respected member of the high tech growing market. Currently US universities are operating low tech greenhouses. When graduates are hired at facilities, such as yours, they are faced with a learning curve. I’m eager to hear what skills and knowledge your facility would like university employees to possess.
We are all coming together to fix the issue of graduates lacking knowledge of the greenhouse industry. Every person in this group will help solve a problem that will make our industry move forward. Working hands on in facilities is an integral part of creating our industries work force. I plan on facilitating (unpaid) internships for students to learn the basic skills that are needed for a greenhouse to operate. The internships would last ten weeks and the students would intern at two different greenhouses. The skills are not limited to the following: Crop work, pest management, verifying computer readings, & shadowing the head grower. We understand that growers are very busy individuals, but by taking the time now, this will alleviate the shortage of undertrained grower candidates in the future.
Another goal is for the college students to build relationships with some the top crop consultants. These relationships will help catalyst ideas & past experience to translate into higher yields at your facility. Having mentors is extremely important as this is how I personally, along with fellow colleagues have learned the industry. If you know any crop consultants that would be interested in educating our industries future, please have them contact me.
We as an industry can create a better viable future by beginning this conversation. We are currently in the process of gathering the thoughts of top industry leaders. We are going to take the thoughts and
ideas to the Universities that are currently on board and discuss what curriculum can be created. If you are interested in joining this discussion, please email your thoughts and ideas. The information that you share with me will only be shared with universities, with your name retracted.
I look forward to hearing from you and continuing this conversation with a response from our university partners!
Julie Gilbert- Vijverberg