Sodexo Horticultural Services, part of Sodexo a leading provider of on site service solutions, has taken the bold step and launched its Bronze Award as a minimum requirement for all employees to help improve the perception that those working in the industry are generally unskilled.

The Bronze Award is a new skills programme to ensure Sodexo stays an industry leader in not only the services it offers but in terms of staff development too. Along with Sodexo’s apprenticeship scheme, talent management and leadership programmes, the new Bronze Award closes off its approach to staff development which initially focuses on those on the front line, then to those with the potential to move up, and then the development of its management team.

The training programme is carried out over a 12 -18 month period and covers a range of subjects such as plant identification, maintaining decorative amenity areas such as trees, plants and shrubs and turf care. The modules chosen for the programme are designed to fit perfectly with the needs and expectations our business requires and provides our clients with the reassurance that Sodexo has trained staff to fulfil the varying contract requirements.

Nigel Payne, Sodexo’s operations director for Horticultural Services, said; “The commitment to increase skills in our business through the Bronze Award will see all of our employees (some 650 existing and new) trained to a NVQ Level 2 standard and receive a work based diploma in Horticulture. Our employees have been very receptive to the Bronze Award programme. It demonstrates to them a personal investment from Sodexo in them as individuals which also benefits the company in terms of employee engagement and staff retention”.

It is widely recognised that in the coming years there will be an increasing number of vacancies within the horticultural industry and an all too familiar question being asked of company’s such as Sodexo is what standard of training is given to staff and what qualifications do they hold.

Mel Henley, contracts manager for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, said of Sodexo’s new Bronze Award; “there are people that say they do, there are people that might do and there are people that just do it. Sodexo’s investment in their frontline staff is real step forward in staff development and the results can already been seen in the improved standards on the contract”.

Sodexo’s introduction of its Bronze Award has set a standard in the industry that very few can compare too and by doing so have increased its chances of attracting the best talent within the industry.

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