The Garden Centre Association (GCA) Trust has received an unprecedented number of grant requests from horticultural students in 2012 and 2013.
The trust, which was established in 1987, makes awards to students within the industry to enable them to afford to complete their chosen courses.
Sue Allen, Chairman of the GCA Trust, said: “The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) recently reported that our industry struggles to fill skilled vacancies. However, we have seen a vast increase in the number of financial help requests we’ve received during the past 12 months, with seven people applying.
“It is clear that in a time when the horticultural industry is struggling to recruit qualified people, students are finding it increasingly difficult to pay their course fees, travelling costs and general living expenses.
“We know how important it is to help the future generation of our industry so our trustees have taken the view that all genuine applicants should receive help, regardless of the fact that this will diminish the amount held by the trust.”
The trustees have reported that during the past year, seven students have received grants and they know from the students’ responses that without this money many of them would not have been able to continue with their studies.
The students funded are currently enrolled on various courses, including a Level 3 National Diploma in Horticulture, Advanced Diploma in Garden Design, a final year Foundation Degree in Horticulture, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture.
The colleges involved are spread across the country from Cannington College in Somerset, to Sheffield University, and Askham Bryan, Kingston Maurward and Hadlow Colleges.
The GCA Trust trustees also administer the Dick Allen Scholarship Fund, which is currently supporting Lionel Smith, a PhD researcher at the University of Reading for the third year.
Lionel’s work developing floral lawns will be on display at this year’s 100th Chelsea Flower Show.
Sue added: “In order to continue to help ensure the successful future of our industry we need support. If you would like to make a donation or arrange a bequest to allow the GCA Trust and Dick Allen Scholarship Fund to continue its work, please contact Pat Adams at the GCA on 0118 930 8918.”