We don’t need no education by Stephen Ensell

GoLandscape EdNews & Events

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“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

There is often a clear distinction between those that enjoyed school and those that couldn’t wait to leave, but many that dislike education go on to enjoy college, university and apprenticeships, that still have an element of learning. I certainly did, because I was able to study what I was really interested in. Knowledge and skills are key to the landscape industry and its underpinned by all the above, as well as direct employment, so what are your education options?

Fools rush in…

With 100’s of full time, part time, face to face, distance learning and online landscape and horticulture courses out there, it can feel overwhelming when you first start to look. Remember, industry skills aren’t necessarily the first thing landscape companies look for. So, it’s important to look closely at what the course is made up of, the value it has to the industry as well as your costs, time commitments and how you like to study. Some people prefer a final exam, others regular assignments, or maybe you gain more from practical assessments.

Just left school?

As it stands, education is free for those under 18 in Further Education (FE), so perhaps it makes sense to take full advantage of this. Over 18? There are still finance options that the education provider should be able to support you with. FE offers many horticulture and landscape courses at different levels, with some great opportunities to progress through different courses. As with any course the content needs to be checked to make sure it covers the area you are interested in and what our industry is looking for, so ask to see the course content and download the syllabus.

Full-time vs part-time

This all comes down to time and money, full-time courses can be completed significantly quicker in 1-2 years. Part-time is often only a day, half day or an evening a week. Bear in mind that part-time courses may not cover all the material that a full-time course covers but are of no less value in the eyes of industry. It is important to note with online training, you can pick up a lot of knowledge through these courses, but for the most part, you will miss out on learning practical skills, which are fundamental to landscaping.

Do your homework

Not all FE colleges and training providers are the same and like many education providers, some are better than others. So, choose carefully and look closely at the specific department you want to study with. Just because they have an outstanding Sports Department doesn’t necessarily mean they have an outstanding Horticulture Department. Visit the college, attend open and taster days, speak to current students and teachers, and find reviews on the college. Be prepared to travel or move to an education establishment which has a strong reputation.


Apprenticeships have and are going through a huge change, the new standards which will fully replace the old frameworks in 2020 have been designed to maximise knowledge and skills while working for a company. Apprentices are expected to spend 20% of their time on ‘off the job training’. However this doesn’t always have to be in a classroom, this could also be at the apprentices place of work, additional practical training or attending industry shows and conferences to name but a few. As it stands you can be a Landscape or Horticulture Level 2 Operative, Level 3 Supervisor, with a Level 5 Managerial apprenticeship in the pipeline. We will be uncovering further information on apprenticeships in a future blog.

Be realistic

Have realistic expectations about the course, it won’t teach you everything. It’s a foundation to be built upon giving you the fundamental principles of the subject and teaching you research skills. A good course will enable you to adapt those fundamentals when you come across a new challenge, product or process. As with many things, you get out of it what you put in, be prepared to read round your subject, research and find out as much as you can.

What do qualifications say?

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, ‘I didn’t bother going to college and I did alright for myself’, and maybe they have. But a qualification demonstrates you have been taught how to learn, and a good education makes a potentially more productive and adaptable employee. But not all qualifications are the same, so always look at the awarding body to see if you want an Ofqual recognised qualification, or that you are happy with a training company providing you with an ‘in-house certificate’.

For further information on education and finding your local training provider visit GoLandscape’s Education and Study guide here which includes details on different courses available to get your foot into the landscape industry. Alternatively, you can get in touch and we can help steer you in the right direction.

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