Guide to green space apprenticeships

A good practice guide to help local authorities, landscape contractors and others involved in delivering green space services to plan and manage successful horticulture apprenticeship programmes.

Cover of Guide to green space apprenticeships:

We are facing an acute shortage of people with the skills needed to plan, design, manage and maintain our parks and green spaces. Apprenticeships are a key element in addressing this skills shortage and improving the benefits and value of our green space.

The Guide to green space apprenticeships is for managers and supervisors who deliver green space services for local authorities, landscape contractors, social landlords and third sector organisations.

What the guide covers

Introduction to green space apprenticeships

Why apprenticeships are key to addressing the skills shortage across the green space sector and how they could benefit your organisation.

01. Understanding green space apprenticeships

Explaining the apprenticeship framework and the qualifications involved, including the combination of on-the-job training and learning away from the workplace.

02. Funding your apprenticeship scheme

Understanding the funding available for the training element of your horticulture apprenticeship programme, plus ideas for how to fund apprenticeship salaries.

03. Preparing for apprenticeships

Making sure your organisation – at both head of service and supervisor level – is fully committed to supporting all aspects of the apprenticeship programme, including policies on diversity and inclusiveness.

04. Marketing your scheme

Marketing your apprenticeship programme and engaging under-represented groups in green space careers.

05. Selecting your apprentice

Designing a recruitment process that will deliver the right people for your apprenticeship scheme.

06. Training your apprentice

Choosing a learning provider then working with them to plan an apprenticeship programme that meets the needs of your service and the individual apprentice.

07. Supporting your apprentice

Supporting your apprentice through mentoring and coaching in the workplace and working with your learning provider to respond to any problems.


Explaining some of the technical terms you’ll come across when setting up and running an apprenticeship programme.

Good practice examples

The guide includes good practice from successful horticulture apprenticeship programmes:

  • APSE Green Space Apprentice of the Year 2009
    Pamela Marnie, a 23-year-old Scot with a passion for plants, is a horticultural apprentice in Fife Council’s parks department who won green space apprentice of the year in 2009.
  • City of Birmingham
    Birmingham City Council’s department of nature conservation and parks is the largest parks department in Europe.
  • Bristol City Council
    Bristol City Council is using the Communities and Local Government apprenticeship grant for two green space apprentices to run a green space apprenticeship scheme for the first time in 18 years.
  • Newham, London
    Newham Council is using the Communities and Local Government apprenticeship grant to fund two extra green space apprentices with Serco, the contractor who delivers their green space services.
  • Bradford, Yorkshire
    Bradford Council used the 2009 Communities and Local Government apprenticeship grant to recruit a well-qualified green space apprentice, with the intention that they would progress to become a manager.
  • Halton, Lancashire
    Halton landscape services division has an excellent eight-year track record in green space apprenticeships.
  • Haringey, London
    Haringey Council’s green space apprenticeship scheme has been running for five years to provide renewal and succession of skills in the parks service, as most staff will within 10 years.
  • The Royal Parks
    The Royal Parks uses sound financial planning, effective resourcing and partnership working to ensure a sustainable future for its apprenticeship programme.
  • Oldham Council
    Oldham Council’s parks team meets the costs of training its apprentices by drawing on internal training budgets, accessing external funds and negotiating free training opportunities with other organisations.
  • Plymouth City Council
    Horticulture apprentices at Plymouth City Council complete a period of work experience before starting their apprenticeship programme, to make sure they understand what working in parks is all about.
  • Kirklees Council
    Kirklees Council created a training programme for applicants who just missed out in their apprenticeship selection process, helping them to develop the skills they need to become an apprentice or find other employment in the sector.
  • The Parks Trust, Milton Keynes
    The Parks Trust in Milton Keynes is creating interest in horticultural careers by talking to students in schools, offering work placements and working with a local college to develop horticulture courses.
  • Bath and North East Somerset Council
    Horticulture apprentices at Bath and North East Somerset Council follow a monthly rotation system to gain experience and skills in a broad range of areas, from city parks to playing fields.

Further information

The guide is based on the information, ideas and good practice shared at a series of green space apprenticeship workshops that we held in July 2009. The workshops were open to urban local authorities that had received funding from Communities and Local Government for a green space apprentice in 2009/10 or were considering setting up an apprenticeship scheme. Local authorities that have an existing apprenticeship scheme also contributed their good practice to the workshops.

Published on 16 October 2009

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