Livery Companies share several commonly held objectives, one of which is to further the education and career development in their own specific areas, or "crafts" as they were originally known.
Gardening is the collective description given in the Royal Charter, granted in 1605, which formalised the Worshipful Company of Gardeners. The provision of education became enshrined as the very heart of our Company, as it did with other livery companies.
Today the craft has broadened immeasurably and horticulture is the descriptive name covering a wide spectrum of disciplines, fundamental to our commercial existence. Regrettably the image of a gardener no longer represents the extraordinary range of skills needed to meet the demands of our industry today. To help to address this need, the Company has, through its Education Committee, established four separate programmes to enable those entering or already working in the craft to develop skills and knowledge to facilitate their success - at every level and in all aspects.
The programmes are as follows:
Nuffield Foundation: To promote the upper level career development, the Company engages with the Nuffield Foundation to encourage applicants from all areas of horticulture to apply for a two year Nuffield Scholarship worth over £20,000 This is funded by both the Company and theFoundation. The Company now has its first Nuffield Scholar, Richard Harrison, a Geneticist, who will be attending several Company events.
Trade Apprenticeships are being developed by the Company
in conjunction with the Royal Parks Guild and other specialist employers. Candidates are supported in one, two or three year training programmes, aimed at progressing their careersin horticulture. This programme benefits from City & Guilds of London funding and exciting events for our growing Alumni who meet regularly during the year.
Future Gardeners: Our primary charitable venture is a very ambitious programme, helping to make participants “work ready”. It provides several six week pre-apprenticeship training programmes, culminating in real employment opportunities. It also focuses on developing job application skills, preparation of CVs and interview techniques. The programme raises awareness of the many careers available in horticulture. Work experience periods are offered by our partners, helping participants towards a future in their chosen areas of horticulture.
Livery & Schools Link: This is a relatively new activity for the Company. The Company exhibits at the annual Livery Showcase where over 1,000 students see examples of modern horticultural activity. Trade members and Liverymen may become volunteer speakers at regional schools, helping to guide careers departments towards real understanding of the exciting and diverse opportunities available in the horticultural sector.
In addition to these four programmes, students and apprentices at horticultural colleges including RHS Wisley, Capel Manor, Writtle and Kew, and at the Royal Parks are encouraged by the Company through various Company awards and prizes.
This wide array of “windows on our world” is aimed at persuading youngsters from diverse and sometimes very challenging backgrounds and those looking for life changing activities that modern horticulture offers many opportunities for a career that is both worthwhile and fulfilling.