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5 Feb 2020

Growing skills

Written by Ann Steele, Head of Heritage Gardening (Policy)
A group of young people stand at a workbench in a greenhouse, cutting potted plants.
National Trust for Scotland garden apprentices learn about propagation at the School of Heritage Gardening, Threave Garden
The National Trust for Scotland is developing future professional gardening talent through our pilot Garden Apprenticeship scheme; the learning is not all about horticulture though – recently we’ve focused on job application skills too.

During National Apprenticeship Week (3–9 February) we’re pleased to see our garden apprentices growing in their heritage gardening skills and experience. As our second year trainees progress, it’s important that we help them prepare for the next step in their career.

Whatever that step might turn out to be, one thing we can be sure of is that their future will involve a job application process sooner or later! With that in mind, our garden apprentices recently joined our student gardeners at the School of Heritage Gardening at Threave Garden, Dumfries and Galloway, to learn more about what makes for success in this area.

Five young apprentices stand in a row in a garden, with heathers and ferns behind them.
Our second year garden apprentices on their team week at Arduaine Garden

The two days of focused skills development was led by the Trust’s People team and the Instructor Gardeners at Threave. On the first day the trainees went through the processes of preparing a CV, completing application forms and preparing for competency-style interviews. The next day they experienced a mock interview and practical skills tests, followed by 1-2-1 feedback on their performance. The second day was rounded off by a practical session on houseplant propagation in the nursery glasshouse.

A close-up of two pairs of hands, holding a stem of a plant and cutting it in half.
Practising taking cuttings

Feedback has been very positive, with the trainees appreciating the mock interview and personalised review in particular.

Hazel Lawrie, Garden Apprentice at Brodick Castle Garden said: ‘Receiving feedback and having a chance to ask questions following the mock interview allowed me to gain insight into what went well, and ways in which I can improve my answers’.

Ann Steele, Head of Heritage Gardening (Policy) said: ‘It was a great opportunity for our trainees to understand how they come across at interview and to hear directly from the interviewer what kind of answer they were looking for. We hope our coaching will help them progress into the next stage of their gardening careers, with the National Trust for Scotland or beyond.’

To learn more about training with the Trust and our amazing gardens see our What we do section.

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Garden apprentices © Dumfries & Galloway Life >