Alan Titchmarsh has branded the current education system “ridiculous” – and called for more school leavers to study gardening instead of going to university.
Gardening guru Titchmarsh, 63, also said he wants horticulture to be taught in all secondary schools as a “useful life skill”.
Titchmarsh, who left school at 15 to become an apprentice council gardener, hopes soaring university tuition fees will see teenagers turn to careers in gardening.
He told Amateur Gardening magazine: “We’ve been in this ridiculous system where we’re sending everyone to university.
“It’s a mad way of proceeding.
“We need practical skills to keep the country going and the fact that they’ve been undervalued, underrated and under catered for is a great mistake in terms of our civilisation. We need to value these skills again.
“Increased tuition fees are putting people off going to university.
“What I’m hoping is that maybe horticulture is one of the things that can benefit from that.
“We need intelligence in these jobs as well. It’s stimulating; it’s growing food; it’s taking care of the landscape.
“We need to see a demonstration of the fact that cultivational skills, whether it’s agriculture or horticulture, are valued.
“We need them – we have to be fed. To undervalue them is incredibly short-sighted.”
Titchmarsh has been backing the Royal Horticultural Society’s Campaign for School Gardening.
He said that 15,500 primary schools nationwide were now participating in the scheme to get pupils growing fruit and veg.