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An apprenticeship at Hampton Court: Interview with Daniel Allingham

Undertaking an apprenticeship is a great way to get a foothold in the career you want.

An apprenticeship is a training programme that allows you gain skills and recognised qualifications whilst working. Horticulture careers caught up with Hampton Court Palace apprentice, Daniel Allingham to discuss his experience so far and his plans beyond gaining his qualification.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Dan, I’m 22 years old, I’m an apprentice gardener at Hampton Court Palace. I am currently on a 2-year course to achieve a Level 2 Standards Operative qualification in horticulture, via YMCA Training. My hobbies outside of work include socialising with friends and gaming.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

I chose an apprenticeship as I wanted to be able to learn and gain a qualification, alongside earning a living. The Hampton Court apprenticeship stood out to me not only because of the gardens historic reputation, but also as I knew there would be a great variety of work for me to gain valuable experience from.

What’s a typical day like as an apprentice at Hampton Court?

A typical day starts bright and early at 7:45am. Firstly I will speak with my line manager to discuss how the previous days work went and how I found it. I will then be allocated work alongside a colleague who is there to guide me during new tasks, and also to help me with any general horticulture queries I may have, plant idents etc. At the end of the day the team will meet up to discuss the days work, and my line manager will check that I am comfortable with the work I was set and that I am comfortable doing it again in the future unaided. The work I do onsite is often planned out so it liaises with the coursework I am doing at the time. This helps a lot as it means I can put my theory work into practice, which again helps to further enhance my understanding of the topic.

What support do you get from your employer and training provider?

The support I get from both is fantastic. The day to day support from not only my line manager but all of the gardeners at Hampton Court is brilliant and has helped me massively so far in the 9 months I’ve been here. Whatever questions I have, there is always an answer. YMCA training have been equally as good. I see my tutor once a month, which may not sound like a lot, but the quality of teaching within that period is superb, and I’m never left scratching my head afterwards. My tutor will always make sure I’m clear and confident about how to approach my work. On top of this, my tutor is always available throughout the month between visits which means if I am stuck or need some guidance, my tutor is only ever a phone call or an email away.

What plans do you have once your apprenticeship is complete?

After completing my 2 year course, my ideal plan is to be able to stay at Hampton Court and become one of the permanent gardeners here at the Palace. However, as a position is not guaranteed, I’m keeping my options open and constantly looking around to see what sort of careers the Level 2 Standards Operative qualification can lead to. I have also considered taking on the Level 3 qualification after as well, but for now I am solely focused on achieving a distinction in the Level 2.

What advice would you give to someone considering undertaking an apprenticeship?

I couldn’t recommend the apprenticeship path more. If classroom environments are not your style, and instead you are eager to get hands on industry experience alongside obtaining a qualification then it’s definitely the path for you. The added bonus is that you also earn a living at the same time, which means apprenticeships are also an option for people who have financial commitments e.g. rent, bills. However, you must be willing to work hard, the qualification won’t be handed to you, you have to earn it. You also need to be comfortable working independently, and be willing to take ownership of your learning; if you do this then you will be able to achieve to your full potential.

If you’re interested in undertaking an apprenticeship, there are plenty of resources available to help point you in the right direction!

Horticulture Careers is a specialist online job portal which is updated in real-time with the latest opportunities.

YMCA Training are a key provider of Apprenticeships and Study Programmes across the UK where you can earn while you learn and work towards a qualification.

GoLandscape can provide you with more information about working in horticulture, and help you to decide the right career path for you.

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