Each year vacancies under the Trainee Technician scheme are available for people wishing to pursue a career in horticulture by gaining practical experience. The training is for a period of one year starting at the beginning of September. Based within the 40-acre Botanic Garden, the trainees are able to learn and perform the wide range of horticultural skills that are required to maintain a diverse collection of over 8,000 plants, which is of international importance. The scheme is demanding and is intended for those wishing to develop their experience in practical horticulture, collection management and plantsmanship. Trainees are part of the staff of the Botanic Garden and receive a salary.
Applicants need to have, or be undertaking, a basic horticultural qualification and have experience of growing plants and of practical horticulture. Full details will be in the application information and person specification.
Trainees who successfully complete the scheme will be awarded a Certificate of Higher Education in Practical Horticulture and Plantsmanship by the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, which works closely with the Botanic Garden. This award attracts 120 credits (Credit Accumulation Transfer [CAT] Points) at FHEQ level 4 (first-year undergraduate level). By the end of the course, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate a critical understanding of the roles of botanic gardens
- Discuss and review issues relating to plant diversity and conservation
- Demonstrate their ability and skill to cultivate and manage plant collections according to scientific principles
The trainees work with experienced Garden staff and rotate between the horticultural sections in the Garden: Trees and Shrubs; Demonstration and Display; Systematic Beds; Alpine and Woodland; Experimental; Glasshouse; Landscape and Machinery. Trainees work on each section, enabling them to experience how the management of each section changes with the seasons. The trainees form a significant proportion of the Garden’s workforce and are central to its horticultural operations.
The practical training is augmented by a weekly programme including talks, seminars, demonstrations, plant identifications, and visits to other gardens and sites of botanical significance. Trainees must attend all teaching sessions during the year in order to complete the qualification. There is an emphasis on plant diversity, basic taxonomic training and plant identification utilising the plant collections.
Due to the COVID-19 situation, we are currently assessing whether we can confidently deliver the practical elements of the scheme for 2021-22 and information will be available here from March 2021.