Kate Hargreaves is the Head Gardener of the Gardens Department of Clare College. One of the 31 colleges within Cambridge University.
Set within formal gardens, Kate and her team tend to herbaceous borders, lawns, propagation and hedging. We caught up with her for a quick chat of what it is like employing and training apprentices.
Firstly, why and how did you get into the industry?
Growing up I was always an active child who could be found outdoors, exploring and learning about nature. At the start of my career I jumped at the chance to work with a local garden designer who really helped ‘bed-in’ my love for plants and nature. Sorry for the pun!
Why do you choose to take on apprentices?
It is the best way to give real hands-on, practical job training, which ensures highly skilled and qualified horticulturists in the industry.
How do you feel Clare College has benefited from taking on apprentices?
An apprentice always brings an air of fresh enthusiasm with them and the dynamics of the team change in positive ways. It is also important to keep up with modern practices and techniques to ensure we are teaching the most relevant information and up to date methods, which in turn benefits our output.
What do you feel people gain from doing an apprenticeship?
The confidence people get from real life, on the job learning in their skills is so much greater than just learning from books and lectures. Plus, the job satisfaction they get can’t be matched. It is always interesting to learn new skills and you can see the pride people have when they do it well.
What advice would you give to someone looking to come into the industry or looking to start an apprenticeship?
With so many different apprenticeships available, you can definitely find one to suit you. A little bit of research ensures you pick the right one for you.
What advice would you give to a business who are thinking of taking on an apprentice?
They are a valued member of the team who do their fair share of the workload. Don’t be put off by the training aspect as they’re always keen to learn and do the job well.