Major apprenticeship scheme launches

Garden Centre Group aims to take on 120 trainees as soon as possible to become the garden centre managers of the future.

Apprentices: recruits will study for two days a month at Pershore - image: HW
Apprentices: recruits will study for two days a month at Pershore - image: HW

The Garden Centre Group (GCG) is running what is thought to be the biggest horticultural apprentice programme as it aims to recruit 120 trainees to become the garden centre managers of the future.

The apprentices will study for two days a month at Pershore College for a level-two diploma in production horticulture. They will spend the rest of their time learning about garden retailing in larger GCG centres.

The programme is aimed at 16-18-year-olds, although older applicants will be accepted if suitable.

Regional apprentice manager for training Ryan Simpson said: "It's about getting the right people, who will stick with it and want a career, rather than just looking for a job."

He added that some of the benefits included being part of a UK-wide company, which offered good opportunities for career progression, and chances to work in the centres and head office, and as buyers and merchandisers.

He said the apprenticeship programme featured GCG's e-learning scheme and was set to involve other colleges around the country. Some 25 people are already involved and GCG hopes to take another 10-15 in March.

Simpson said the apprentices' wages were more attractive than paying £9,000 tuition fees at university.

Edinburgh gardens - Work experience

Two of the Garden Centre Croup (GCG) apprentices are to spend a week at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE).

Associate director of horticulture (learning) Leigh Morris said: "The top two GCG apprentices will come to RBGE for a week's experience/internship.

"The vision is that they get to experience horticulture in one of the world's leading botanical gardens and, with my Institute of Horticulture and RBGE hats on, I want to forge close links between commercial and botanic garden horticulture. The apprentices will spend one day working in each of five departments in the gardens. The aim is that this relationship grows."

GCG's Ryan Simpson will be in Edinburgh on 20 February to talk about the scheme at the Grow careers afternoon at Scottish Rural College.


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