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Apprenticeship in Botanical Horticulture

Sign up for our three-year practical horticulture course with day release option.
Kew Apprentices in the Gardens
Kew Apprentices from schemes one and two


The three-year Kew Apprenticeship aims to teach the highest standards of professional horticultural practice by offering a structured training in amenity and botanical horticulture. The Apprenticeship provides participants with the opportunity to gain practical experience and an understanding of the horticultural operations at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Each Apprentice will be granted day release to attend a local horticultural college, where they will study for a recognised horticultural qualification, eg the RHS certificate.

A Kew Apprentice will gain work experience in each of the two Horticultural Sections: Arboretum, Gardens & Horticultural Services, and Glasshouses, Nurseries and Display Horticulture. As part of this work experience, on-the-job training will be arranged and delivered by garden managers and trainers, with a focus on practical skills using real tasks.

Course objectives

The Kew Apprenticeship aims to teach the highest standards of professional practice to all trainees by offering structured training. It provides participants with the opportunity to gain practical experience and knowledge of the responsibilities involved in this type of work, based on the horticultural operations in horticultural sections at Kew.

Course content

Placement structure

Apprentices will be placed in one horticultural section every 18 months. On-the-job training will be arranged and delivered by garden managers and trainers with focus on practical skills using real tasks. Placements are divided into six-monthly blocks, within the following sections:

First 18 month placement

Second 18 month placement

Arboretum, Gardens and Horticultural Services

1) Arboretum and Nursery

2) Arboretum - Woody collections

3) Gardens

Glasshouses, Nurseries and Display Horticulture

1) Nurseries

2) Conservatories

3) Display Horticulture


Course teaching

Training and assessment
Apprentices have a training plan that outlines everything needed to achieve their certificate. On-the-job training will be integrated with training day sessions as needed, where theoretical tuition and practical demonstration will be delivered by Kew specialists. Apprentices have access to our libraries, computer and information systems.

Practical placements
The work placements are intended to make two major contributions to the scheme as a whole: the acquisition of craft, technical and employment skills, and the opportunity to work with a very wide range of plants, developing horticultural amenity and landscape features, and environments.

Training logs
Apprentices receive a unique training log, specific to the section they are working in, which records training undertaken. Team leaders or trainers are responsible for the basic on-the-job training which is reviewed every three months.

Work journals
Apprentices are required to produce a practical work journal to record personal learning on a daily basis. These work journals are evidence of development and learning and will be presented to the Studentship Review board, prior to graduation.

Plant profiles and monthly identification tests
Apprentices are required to learn an average of 120 plants per year. These will be presented as ten plants a month by an ident coordinator. Apprentices will complete plant profiles for these plants and be assessed with a plant identification test. These tests will incorporate previous months plants leading to an overall test at the end of each year.

Course assessment

Practical assessment
Within each section, you will be given a practical test on specific horticultural operations, to confirm you have attained skills to the required standard.

In order to pass the Apprenticeship, you must:

  • successfully pass the practical placement to the required standard
  • undertake all standard training requirements
  • successfully pass all the practical assessments to the required standard
  • produce a weekly work journal for each placement
  • complete all plant profiles (average 120 per year)
  • attend the monthly identification tests
  • attend and pass the End of Scheme review

Successful participants will be awarded an Apprenticeship Certificate and a Transcript of Practical Training. This is a bespoke programme managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Application process

Apprentices require a good standard of education - 2 GCSEs (or equivalent) including English, Mathematics or a Science. Apprentices must be eligible to work in the United Kingdom for which there is a salary of £12,333 per annum with a one-off book and equipment payment of £725 (rates current 2013). Limited opportunities also exist to care for the collections at weekends and these receive additional payment. 

Kew welcomes international applicants, as we firmly believe in this ethos. However Kew is unable to sponsor applicants to work in the United Kingdom for the Kew Apprenticeship.  It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure eligibility to work in the United Kingdom for the duration of the appointment; see United Kingdom Border Agency for the latest regulations.

All successful applicants called to interview will be required to provide documentary evidence of their right to work in the United Kingdom at interview.  The practical training is a non-accredited qualification backed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, with the RHS Certificate Level 2 which is accredited. Four employed apprentices are recruited per year, making up 12 in total.


Online applications, together with an essay of 250 - 500 words describing why you wish to undertake the Kew Apprenticeship, should be submitted no later than 28 February in the year of recruitment. Interviews are scheduled for late March/early April, with the Apprenticeship starting the first Monday in August.


This is a three-year fixed term appointment (employment). Apprentices receive 30 days leave in addition to day release to attend college.


We will only contact those candidates selected for interview. Therefore, if you have not heard from us within three weeks of the closing date, you should presume that you will not be called for interview.

Apply now