October 15, 2013
By Sally Harvey CLT, CLP
Manager Education and Labour Development

Sally HarveyWe all know that without well-trained and skilled employees, we are challenged to meet the needs of our clients, expand our businesses and make a profit.

Why is it then that so many of us forget to take care of them as the landscape season winds down? With the changes to Employment Insurance (EI), it is now as important as ever to look at solutions to retain your good employees, who because of our Canadian winter most times are laid-off due to a shortage of work.

There are many solutions to the issue. Think about adding another division to your company, such as interior landscaping, or snow removal. Some of our members offer carpentry and renovation services during the winter. I heard of another firm developing a man-cave or garage design, installation and detail service. In addition, I would be remiss if I did not remind you of all of the professional development opportunities that are available through your association and our partner organizations, including the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU) and our colleges.
This fall season, LO provides Landscape Industry Certification written and hands-on test days in Eastern Ontario at Kemptville College in late September and in Milton on Oct. 31, and Nov. 1.

According to chair of the International Certification Council, David Hupman of Blue Ash, Ohio, “The Landscape Industry Certified program must be embraced at the owner-manager level, encouraged and incorporated into business plans, along with in-house training. Smart employers will promote through all company communications and advertising the fact that they support and employ staff who are Landscape Industry Certified.”

Hupman reminds us, “Certification is an individual honour and it’s a savvy CEO that turns the qualifications of his or her team into successful sales goals. Education and certification of your crew can help boost a company’s profits and bottom line only if offered to staff and promoted; not to mention boost team morale and longevity in the process. Take action by including certification in our everyday business operations, marketing and communications.”

Are you ready to really make certification your company’s competitive slam dunk? Take up the certification challenge now. Get certified, get your staff certified, and promote your achievement all the way to the bank. Landscape Ontario can help you to establish training strategies that will support you and your staff in achieving these designations over the winter months. Contact the home office at 1-800-265-5656.

For more information about the program or to register for the next test, go to www.horttrades.com/certified.


The MTCU provides us with several fantastic and well-recognized opportunities for professional development through college, university and apprenticeship programs that start at various times throughout the year.

For the purpose of this article and the focus on employee retention and ROI, we will focus on the Horticulture Technician (441C) Apprenticeship program. In my mind, it is a truly a gift. Staff can be registered at any time of the year. You as an employer have the opportunity to train them on the job, and when the winter months arrive send them to school for 12 weeks over two winter seasons to expand their skill and knowledge set and that then potentially increases your ROI. If that staff member qualifies for EI, then they can receive EI benefits throughout their in-school training periods. It’s a win/win for all.

The Apprenticeship Program is offered by the following colleges: Fanshawe, Humber, Loyalist, Mohawk and University of Guelph Campus at Kemptville.

How does it work? The employee must have a grade 12 diploma, $40 registration fee and you, the employer, to sponsor them and provide them with the training required. The in-class program cost is $600 for both 12 week terms over the two winter seasons. Training typically starts in late November
or January, depending on the school. If it is of interest, complete the pre-registration form located at www.horttrades.com.

apprenticeship. Send it in in to your local MTCU office right away, as the registration process does take time. Link to MTCU Offices in Ontario at www.horttrades.com/mtcu-offices-in-ontario.

A MTCU representative will come out to see you and your staff at your office, register the apprentice and once the application is processed and there is still room in the class/school that you prefer to attend, a letter of offer will be sent to the apprentice. They must act quickly once they receive this offer, by going to the school and completing the in-school registration and pay the tuition fee of $600 per training year. If they ignore the letter and do not register in person and pay their fee, they will lose out that year, but will be offered a seat in a future year. Training on-the-job can continue.

Don’t forget, too, that there are employer training tax credits available to you. Information on the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit can be found at www.horttrades.com/apprenticeship-job-creation-tax-credit.

The apprentice is eligible for financial incentives as well; for information go to www.horttrades.com/apprenticeship-grants.

For more information about the Horticulture Technician Training Program, go to www.horttrades.com/apprenticeship.

As the temperatures cool, our seminar coordinator, Kathy McLean, prepares the Landscape Ontario Prosperity Partners Professional Development Guide that is full of seminars and learning opportunities aimed at providing you and your staff with more knowledge and skill. The focus each year is based on your feedback and is full of amazing technical and business oriented content. I can tell you that as I reviewed the line-up, I was not only inspired but tempted to register myself. Your printed version of the guide is inside this issue of Landscape Ontario magazine, and it will be distributed at Expo 2013 and at Congress 2014. You can also request that we mail you your own copy, or extra copies for your staff. Or go to the website at: www.horttrades.com/seminars.

There are many skills that will provide your firm with an excellent employee retention strategy. Wouldn’t it be great to start next season off with staff who will not only return to your company, but who have gained skills and knowledge?

I welcome your comments.
Contact Sally Harvey at sharvey@landscapeontario.com