They have teamed up with a businessman to run a competition to find a "green-fingered apprentice" to work in grounds-upkeep or landscaping. The student at Sheffield or Derby colleges who reaches the top in tests will win the placement at Pople Landscapes & Shed Ground Maintenance for £6.50 an hour.
Managing director Peter Botham said: "Rather than simply undertaking conventional interviews I am searching for five hopefuls to do assignments with my team."
Challenges include basic design of landscape installation, proficiency in tool handling, knowledge of on-site health-and-safety practice, and plant and weed identification.
Instead of conventional CVs, Botham asked the students to record a film of less than two minutes to explain why they should be part of this sector.
At least one in 10 of this summer's graduates will fail to find a job six months after they leave university, the Higher Education Careers Services Unit has said.
Botham said: "It's tougher than ever for graduates to gain work experience, never mind secure full-time employment. We can give a taste of a career in horticulture."