Coinciding with the start of National Apprenticeship Week (3-9 February 2020) aspiring gardeners can now apply to work in iconic locations such as Hyde Park and Greenwich Park.
The scheme typically lasts three years, and apprentices study for the Horticulture Landscape Operative Standard, which includes modules such as plant identification and soil science. In their final year, they can study for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Level 2 Certificates in Horticulture.
As part of their studies, apprentices will also have access to the state-of-the-art Hyde Park Nursery, which grows over 450,000 plants for all eight Royal Parks. Here they will learn about propagation and have a hand in growing the parks’ eye-catching flowerbed displays.
In 2019, apprentice Aimee Spanswick, 35, left her job as a Customer Services Administrator, to follow her dream of working in the horticultural industry. “My parents cultivated a love of the land and encouraged me from a young age to grow simple vegetables and flowers,” she said.
“In my mid-twenties my passion intensified, and I became particularly concerned about the vegetables I was buying. I was lucky enough to acquire an allotment when I lived in Northampton where I learnt about the importance of soil health and prevention of pests and diseases.
“Before hearing about the Royal Parks Apprenticeship Scheme, I couldn’t see a way into horticulture for an unqualified gardener in London as most vacancies required at least two years’ experience. This scheme offers me a regular income and a hands-on approach to study, getting me to the level required to pursue a career relatively quickly.”
The highly successful scheme dates from the 1960s with many of its apprentices going on to secure employment within The Royal Parks, or other prestigious locations such as Kew Gardens and Buckingham Palace.
Dennis Clarke, Head of Park Services at The Royal Parks, said: “Our apprenticeships are open to all - school leavers, people who want a career change and even those already working in the horticultural industry. We are looking for candidates with a passion for horticulture, a hunger to learn and a commitment to excellence.
“In return, we are offering the opportunity to work in world class parks, have access to horticultural experts, and have the chance to study for recognised qualifications, making this the perfect springboard for a successful career in the horticulture industry.”
Deadline for applications is 15 March 2020. Apply via www.royalparks.org.uk/apprenticeship