Apprenticeship scheme sowing seeds for garden centre

A family owned garden centre is preparing the green shoots of the future with its new apprenticeship scheme.

St Peter’s Garden Centre, near Worcester, is putting 22-year-old James Lawrence through a diploma in work-based horticulture at Pershore College to sow the seeds of a career in the gardening industry.

Will Blake, garden centre manager, hopes the scheme can benefit the centre as well as Mr Lawrence through the acquisition of skills that can help both parties improve and advance.

Mr Blake said: “It is to up-skill somebody who is interested in coming into the industry. Garden centres have struggled to attract new young people, so anything we can do to up-skill James is a benefit to us because we will have better qualified staff to help the customers.”

He added: “I think this has been a bit of a trial but it is something we would look to continue and bring another apprentice through the scheme.”

Mr Lawrence, who has been working at the Pear Tree Farm based centre in Norton for six years, said: “I am definitely getting a better understanding of the finer points. It is such a wide subject area there’s always more to learn and I am augmenting my knowledge picked up from my time here.

“At college I’m building up the theory and knowledge, plant identification and here at the centre it is more practical work – how to prepare the ground for planting, watering and the best procedures for that.”

Mr Lawrence is due to finish the two-year course in September 2015.

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