Yesterday the UK officially entered a double dip recession. The first in nearly 50 years. Led by the building industry, it’s predicted that this sector will remain in negative grown for at least the rest of this year.
With house building at an all time low, and Europe and America in the worst recession since the 1930’s, what will happen to the middle classes, that up till now have been the life blood or our industry?
Garden design as an industry, has had 20 years of unparalleled growth. Prices in the housing market have risen across Europe (and more recently America) at a staggering and in hind-sight, unsustainable rate.
It goes without saying that the housing market and the landscape industry go hand in hand. There have been housing market slumps before and the garden design industry has always recovered. But this time it could be different.
Countries like Spain and Ireland have huge housing estates abandoned like ghost towns, and parts of the US have deserted subdivisions, reminiscent of 1930’s dust bowl America, where thousands of acres of farmland where abandoned.
With house price crashes in some countries in excess of 50%, it’s going to take more than a generation to put right these wrongs and as a result, the middle classes are going to be squeezed very hard, for a very long time.
So what effect for the garden design industry? I believe it’s inevitable that the industry will contract. More people will be fighting for the smaller bread and butter jobs while the upper end will remain strong.
Those designers who are properly qualified, stand the best change of making a living. Charging professional frees and offering a professional service.
Fewer people will enter the professions; and those that do, will need to do their homework very carefully. Too many courses cater for the “ladies who lunch brigade”. They focus on the froth, rather than teaching their students the professional practice side of the industry.
The Oxford College of Garden Design took the decision last year to only offer our on-line course for the foreseeable future. Thus allowing our students to continue to work and earn a living, while they study.
By pre-recording all our lectures and offering them as downloadable video tutorials student can continue to train while still bringing in a salary.
Too may student graduate, only to then drop out after 12 –18 months because they can’t afford to live.
If you want to thrive in the 21st century you need to think smart, plan ahead and have the best training you can afford.