An excellent way into horticulture is through an apprenticeship scheme. There are a number of apprenticeship standards but one of the most popular is the Level 2 Horticulture (or Landscape) Operative Apprenticeship which is offered by a number of gardens in association with local colleges. Each apprenticeship will be slightly different (duration, wage offered etc.) but will provide in-garden work experience and day release to a local horticultural college to complete a Level 2 qualification.
The apprenticeship provides a blend of practical hands on experience with the underpinning knowledge. Each apprentice on the scheme will be required to complete an independent end-point assessment to demonstrate that the required skills have been acquired to achieve the apprenticeship qualification.
The apprentice will:
- Work in your chosen industry for a minimum of 30 hours per week.
- Get paid a minimum of the Apprenticeship Wage.
- Study in a flexible way – students attend college one day a week and work with their employer for the rest of the week.
- Be assessed and graded with either a pass, merit or distinction at the end of your programme by an Independent Assessment Organisation.
- Often have the option to complete Functional Skills in English and Maths or study for Maths and English GCSE (depending on previous qualifications).
- Complete work-related tasks and assessments.
- Receive mentoring visits in the workplace from the college’s Training Officer, who will provide support, assess and review your progress.
- Gain a nationally recognised qualification.
Further details on the course content can be found on the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education website. Examples of some of the topics you may cover (depending on pathway):
- Assess, repair and maintain hard structures
- Communication & Customer care
- Cultivate and maintain soft landscape elements
- Free hand cutting and bench cutting of landscape materials
- Health and Safety
- Install hard landscape features
- Tools, equipment and machinery
- Interpretation of drawings
- Ornamental turf management
- Plant health
- Plant identification
- Planting, Plant growth and development
- Propagation and Growing media for plant production
- Set out site and site preparation
- Soil science and cultivation
- Use of abrasive wheels
- Water feature construction
- Vegetation Control
- Watering techniques
Case study – Level 2 (Intermediate) Horticulture Operative Apprentice at Sculpture by the Lakes with Kingston Maurward College
Nestled in 26 acres of Dorset’s glorious countryside lies Sculpture by the Lakes, an oasis for art lovers and collectors, created by renowned sculptor Simon Gudgeon and his wife, Monique. The modern botanic gardens have been created by Monique using inspiration from many sources both nationally and globally and provide a garden of tranquil, peaceful beauty enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year. In addition, Sculpture by the Lakes hosts many fantastic music and fine dining events and represents an outstanding collection of international artists exhibiting sculptures, paintings and handmade prints in the largest exhibition space in Dorset.
The ideal candidate will carry out various land-based horticultural and environmental operations, and also undertake day-to-day duties of grounds maintenance. They will also assist in the maintenance and development of plant collections including pruning, and cultural operations and help with landscaping operations and the setting up of and display of shows and events. Applicants should be enthusiastic in the subject of horticulture, have a strong commitment to the role of Horticulture Operative Apprentice, show reliability, adaptability and a keen willingness to learn new skills, as well as willing to work in all weathers.
The working week will be Monday – Friday (Thursday will be day release at Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester).
Work times: 1st April – 30th September (8am – 5pm)
1st October – 31st March (9am – 4pm)
20 days holiday per year plus Bank Holidays. Overtime available for events and show set up.
Apprenticeship is for a 24-month period.
Weekly wage: £168.35
Training provider: Kingston Maurward College.
Applications in writing together with CV to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Employing an apprentice
To find out how you can employ an apprentice at your garden or horticultural organisation, read through the ‘Employing an apprentice’ guide on the GOV.UK website.