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.
But he went on: “I’m really keen that we should get horticulture back into secondary schools.
“People should understand it and shouldn’t be fearful of it.
“They spend so much time looking at screens now that they’re sort of divorced from it.
“It’s a useful life skill.”
Titchmarsh is highlighting the gardening industry’s need for 11,000 new entrants over the next decade.
He is calling on the Government to promote gardening as a serious career – after a survey found three quarters of young people believe it is only for ‘dropouts’.
He said: “This country is a patchwork quilt and each of us has a patch of it and it’s down to us to cherish that.
“The most important thing we face is getting across to government and the powers that be that ours is an important job and horticulture is something to encourage domestically and in schools, so that children and future generations grow up with an affinity to the land in all its forms rather than a fear of it because of a lack of understanding.
“As an industry we need to get that across in a way which is infectious.”
Titchmarsh previously had a dig at David Cameron for saying that he regarded gardening as requiring as much skill as collecting litter.
He complained of the PM: “We still have people in high places who will smile sweetly and say they didn’t really mean that gardening was as unskilled as litter picking and that they realise it can be a rewarding activity.
“Gardening is ingrained in the human psyche as an occupation that needs stamina and tenacity but not necessarily intelligence.
“Horticulture as a career has an image problem of considerable proportions.
“People should see apprenticeships and other career paths such as studentships at horticultural colleges as a valued and valid alternative, not as a second best option.
“I can’t imagine any other career offering so much variety; so much opportunity to someone with little more to offer than enthusiasm and a willingness to have a go.
“It is the most rewarding and most important career on offer, bar none.”
- “I just wanted to grow things…” Alan Titchmarsh (johnbald.typepad.com)
- Gardening is not just for drop-outs says Alan Titchmarsh (telegraph.co.uk)
- Alan Titchmarsh attacks David Cameron’s views on gardening (telegraph.co.uk)
- Angry Alan Titchmarsh blasts BBC’s Jubilee coverage (scotsman.com)
- Alan Titchmarsh: BBC jubilee was bloomin’ awful | Media Monkey (guardian.co.uk)
- Alan Titchmarsh goes back to school (telegraph.co.uk)