September 7, 2021
Aurélio Teixeira
Aurélio Teixeira
While the GROW program is designed as a training mechanism for landscape companies, it’s also helping to show employees how the industry can become a career, rather than job.

For the Montreal-based Strathmore Landscaping and their employee Aurelio Teixeira, the Get Ready for Opportunities at Work (GROW) program has proven itself as a win-win endeavour.

Teixeira immigrated to Canada from Brazil with a strong background in agricultural engineering. He discovered many jobs in landscaping and horticulture required similar skills to his previous work experience and education, and joined Strathmore Landscaping in 2020.

With plans to expand into the Greater Toronto Area, Strathmore identified Teixeira as a strong employee. However, in order to promote him to a supervisory role, he required training.

So, the landscaping company enrolled Teixeira in the 2020/21 cohort of the GROW – Incumbent Worker Training Program (IWTP). Strathmore selected the GROW program as it offered an intensive and targeted approach, providing the learning and development they considered key to the successful startup of their new branch.

“Something that we realized quite a while ago is that our success as a business relies on being able to develop the talent our employees have within the company,” said Jessica Milligan, vice president and owner of Strathmore. “In the crunch we’re seeing now with the availability of talent, it’s really important to have a program like GROW. We can take people and show them there is a path and career development available in our industry.”

GROW was created in response to a growing number of requests from employers for support in developing and retaining employees. Established by SkillsAdvance Ontario, the program was developed and delivered by Landscape Ontario, with the support of a consultant, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) and in partnership with other training providers such as Conestoga College. GROW includes three streams, which focus on new entrants to the industry, existing workers who are looking to develop their skills; and the employer of choice program for business owners and managers.

Incumbent worker program participants are nominated by their employer, and are trained in foundational supervision, advanced health and safety compliance, as well as skills outlined by the GROW program staff.  

Teixeira explained the program helped him develop his delegation skills, improve his staff and client management skills as well as leadership skills. Since completing the 15-week online program, he has been promoted from crew manager to site supervisor.

“I became a better leader after the program, I learned how to delegate and handle overwhelming situations,” Teixeira said. “This has allowed me to approach this season in a better state of mind with the ability to stay calm when dealing with new situations.”

For Strathmore, the GROW program allowed local training for their GTA expansion, instead of importing a supervisor from their head office in Montreal.

Now, both Strathmore and Teixeira agree he is well-positioned to grow into a field supervisor role as a result of the training and combined on-the-job experience. Milligan explained that alongside new skills, the GROW program delivered new confidence for Teixeira.

“The big thing was it showed him that we were serious about giving him a future beyond punching a clock in this business,” Milligan said. “Being selected to participate in the program was a very big deal for him. There was a sense of accomplishment and pride.”

Do you have any employees who would benefit from the incumbent worker program this off season? Nominate them today!

The Incumbent Worker Training Program provides professional development to current sector workers nominated for the program by their employer. All successful nominees receive foundational supervisory and advanced health and safety compliance training. GROW staff create individualized development plans with each participant in coordination with their employer. The program is delivered from September 2021-February 2022. The training course is delivered over 10 weeks. If you have any questions, contact Lori Harding at

For more information on the GROW program, visit