Modern Apprenticeship at RBGE

What is a Modern Apprenticeship?

A modern apprenticeship is a scheme that is open to 16-19 year olds (for those with dates of birth between 1 July 1996 and 30 June 1999) and offers a full time work programme of learning and qualifications. This is completed in the workplace and gives participants the skills, knowledge and competence they need to progress in their chosen career or industry. This is a structured programme for a fixed period of two years and while you learn on the job, you also attend off the job training at college.

Some of the benefits of an Apprenticeship are that you can:

  • earn a wage while you train
  • learn on the job skills combined with off the job training
  • receive a nationally recognised qualification on successful completion
  • start a valuable step towards a rewarding career path

The Qualifications

You will work towards a Modern Apprenticeship, which includes studying for an SVQ Level 2 in Amenity Horticulture at Oatridge College.  This will be on a day release basis, and all course fees will be paid by us.  You will also be taken through additional practical qualifications e.g. machinery operation and first aid training.  RBGE Apprentices are also required to complete a diary of work carried out at RBGE and complete some practical based garden projects, in both years 1 and 2.

On successful completion of your apprenticeship, you may have the opportunity to extend your training period for an additional two years to undertake an SVQ Level 3 horticultural qualification.


You will be a member of our staff on a two year fixed term appointment subject to the terms and conditions of employment of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.  You will be contracted to work 42 hours per week (inclusive of lunch breaks) and be eligible to receive 25 days annual leave per year and an additional 11.5 day public and privilege holiday entitlement.  You will also be eligible to join the RBGE pension arrangements. 

You will be provided with protective clothing and any safety equipment required for the work you are doing.  Your starting salary will be £15,366 (Band A). Your salary will be subject to normal tax and national insurance deductions where applicable.

For the purpose of this modern apprenticeship, whilst there is an allowance provided for annual leave, this cannot be taken during the college term times.

Probation Period

All staff at RBGE serve a period of probation which lasts for six months. During your probation period your progress, performance and attendance will be regularly assessed and discussed with you. You will be expected to achieve the required standard (in your work, your approach and your attendance), in order to be awarded your modern apprenticeship certificate.

Overview of the RBGE Modern Apprenticeship in Horticulture

The two year RBGE modern apprenticeship scheme aims to teach trainees the highest standards of professional horticultural practice by offering a structured training programme in amenity horticulture within our world renowned gardens. The scheme provides participants with the opportunity to gain wide practical experience and an understanding of the horticultural techniques carried out at RBGE. 

During the two years you will gain work experience in each of the RBGE horticultural sections: arboriculture, alpine, display and research glasshouses, herbaceous and shrub, lawns and turf and nursery departments. As part of this work experience, on the job training will be delivered by RBGE staff, with a focus on practical skills using real tasks.  Apprentices will also be given the opportunity to undertake additional short courses in areas such as tractor driving and pesticide application.


The RBGE modern apprenticeship scheme aims to teach the highest standards of professional practice to all trainees by offering structured training. It provides participants with the opportunity to gain practical experience and knowledge of the responsibilities involved in this type of work, based on the horticultural operations in each of six horticultural sections at RBGE.

Placement Structure

Modern apprentices will be based at the Inverleith site for the duration of their placement.  It is expected that over the course of your two year placement, you will spend approximately three months in each department.  Tuition whilst on site at RBGE will be provided by RBGE staff and will focus on developing your practical horticultural skills.

Course Teaching

Modern apprentices will attend Oatridge College on a day release basis during the academic year for one day per week to study towards their SVQ Level 2 in Amenity Horticulture. This will amount to 26 days each year.  Over the two year period, you will work towards achieving 9 units:

Year One:

  • Monitoring and maintaining health and safety
  • Site preparation
  • Establish plants outdoors
  • Maintain plants outdoors
  • Identify and classify plants accurately using their botanical names (year 1 and 2)

Year Two:

  • Develop personal performance and maintain working relationships
  • Establish and develop decorative amenity areas
  • Construct and maintain boundary paths
  • Use and maintain equipment and machines

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