Are you looking to hire an extra pair of hands to support your landscaping business with little luck? Like many other industries in Europe, landscaping is facing labour shortages.

For landscape professionals looking to grow their business, this makes for an interesting challenge; there’s room to expand, but hiring the employees necessary to do so can prove difficult.

We take a look at the reasons behind the labour shortage and how landscapers looking to hire can attract employees in the current environment.

A closer look at landscaping’s labour shortage

Labour shortages are impacting industries across Europe, with some of the biggest employers, including the likes of construction and hospitality, struggling to find staff. Landscape maintenance is facing similar challenges.

In France, the L’Union Nationale des Entreprises du Paysage reported that 40 percent of professionals looking to expand tried to hire without success in the first half of 2023.

In Germany, concerns over an “increasing lack of young talent” were discussed in the publication DEGA GALABAU, while, according to a survey by the Ifo Institute, 59.4 percent of landscaping businesses were affected by the skills shortage in 2022. The skills shortage worsened slightly in 2023.

It’s a similar case in many countries across the continent, despite the fact the landscaping industry is growing each year, and employs around 441,000 people across Europe. Since the pandemic, interest in gardening has boomed, with the creation and maintenance of beautiful outdoor spaces taking priority for many. Organic gardening and growing produce are rising trends, with environmentally friendly solutions to garden maintenance also increasing in popularity.

This surplus of work makes 2024 a great time to enter the landscaping labour market – so why the labour shortages?

What has contributed to the labour shortages?

There isn’t any single factor that has led to labour shortages in landscaping; while there are a handful of reasons tied to the industry specifically, many are a result of wider economic factors or societal changes. As we’ve discussed, labour shortages are far from limited to just the landscaping industry.

A 2023 European Commission report pointed to an aging population, gender imbalances in professions and a lack of opportunities for young people to enter an industry as just a few reasons for the skills shortage. These are all factors applicable to the landscaping industry, even if they’re not limited to it.

The Landscape Institute echoed the concerns surrounding gender, entry routes and age in a review of the UK’s landscape workforce. More specific to landscape professionals is the perception that it may be less financially rewarding than other areas of the labour market. It’s also viewed by some to be labour-intensive, and too demanding physically.

While some of these factors and views are beginning to change, with women gradually entering the profession and increased emphasis on educating young people about the industry, changing perceptions takes time; the labour shortage is not, unfortunately, a quick fix for any industry.

How to attract talent during a labour shortage

Landscape professionals looking to hire and expand their business may face a tougher task, but there are plenty of ways you can attract talent and stand out against other companies for a limited labour supply.

We’ll run through some of the ways you can attract talent and be a competitive employer during a skills shortage, helping you to take your business to the next level.

Take on an apprentice

When looking to hire, employers often want their staff to hit the ground running, and have the knowledge and experience necessary from day one. These employees, however, are few and far between, and will command a far higher salary than someone new to the work.

Being willing to take on a young person as an apprentice and train them will make finding a new hire far easier than looking for someone with experience. It requires work on your part to get them up to speed, but you save time on the hiring process, and training an apprentice can be a very rewarding experience. It also allows you to train your new employee exactly as you’d like, and, if you’re an older worker, having a younger apprentice could extend the life of your business, or allow you to reduce your working hours if you wish once they are fully trained.

Many young people are simply unaware of landscaping as a potential career or have difficulty finding an experienced landscape professional offering apprenticeships. Visiting careers fairs at local colleges or offering work experience to young people can help you find an apprentice, but simply being willing to offer an apprenticeship will help you stand out from competitors, and is likely to get quick results.

Demonstrate that your business is welcoming to all

Women are a largely untapped resource in landscape maintenance and the wider labour market. There is no reason why the industry should remain closed off to women. When hiring, make sure your job opportunity is accessible to those who might be primary carers to children by being clear and fair on points such as maternity leave and flexibility regarding hours.

If your business is female-led, mention this in any job adverts you write – many women are more likely to apply for a job in this industry if they know that the company is directed by a woman.

By considering these pointers, you can make your business a safe and welcoming place for all, thus opening up your labour demand to potentially twice as many candidates.

Show the benefits of working in the industry

Many people dream of leaving their desk jobs behind and working outdoors. Highlighting the benefits of working in the landscaping industry, both on your social media and in a job posting, can make it a more attractive proposition:

  • Working outdoors is a highly desirable feature for many people, especially those who love nature and are interested in learning more about it.
  • An active job can be great for both mental and physical health.
  • Landscape maintenance is both creative and practical, and offers opportunities to cultivate expert knowledge in several areas.
  • Working with landscaping equipment. Many people are interested in machinery, and would like to work with a range of equipment; if you have the latest technology in your toolkit, show it off on social media.

Bringing attention to these positives – and clearing up any common misconceptions, like poor pay – helps show the industry in its best light.

Business management, marketing and customer service are just a few other aspects of running a landscaping business – if you’re willing to let an employee help with some of these, you can advertise that there’s much more to the work than just the physical side.

A competitive job offer

An obvious one, perhaps, but if you’re looking for the finished article, and need to find someone fast, there are few methods more sure of success than offering a good wage.

You’ll have to carefully plan your business projections, but an additional team member will mean you can take on more work without needing to train them, so could be a sound investment. Alternatively, offering a bonus may make you stand out among competitors.

Advertising continuing opportunities for training and growth in your company is another great way of making your job attractive to potential applicants, and maintaining a steady workforce.

Maintaining productivity despite labour shortages

Beginning recruitment well ahead of the time you know you’re going to need extra help gives you the best chance of finding the right fit for your team. But this isn’t always possible, and, despite your best efforts, recruitment can sometimes take longer than expected.

Being able to increase your productivity level, and increase your capacity to take on more work, is therefore invaluable. You only have so many hours in a day, so it’s essential that all aspects of your business are working efficiently for you, including your equipment.

Kawasaki engines are designed for durability and efficiency, and we are maintaining that focus with our latest innovative designs. We know how important it is that you can increase your productivity when you have a full schedule of jobs to do.

Whether you’re looking to hire to expand your business and take on more work or not, improving productivity should always be a priority. With the right maintenance, our mowers can last for decades, providing you with the reliable tools you need to secure your business for years to come.

Looking to the future

The landscaping industry is bursting with opportunities. The challenge now is to find, encourage and empower the workers we need to ensure the sector continues to thrive.

In the meantime, you can look to cover the labour gap with an investment in improving productivity. You need equipment with the quality necessary to handle a full quota of work – boost your productivity and invest in equipment you can rely on to keep up with your increasing workload; explore machinery Powered by Kawasaki today.

If you’re trying to hire and have found it difficult, or have noticed any other impact of the labour shortage, share your thoughts with us on our social media pages.