NIC Horticulture program gives students a foot in the door

  • Oct. 3, 2017 12:30 p.m.

Sometimes, a little training can transform a green thumb into a new career.

For those interested in gardening or changing fields, NIC’s Level 1 Landscape Horticulture Apprenticeship Training may be just what they need to get started.

That was the case for James Leard, who began apprenticeship training at NIC roughly five years ago.

He now owns his own business, Little River Landscape Design. He plans on going for his Interprovincial Red Seal certification this fall.

Leard says NIC’s horticulture program was a great way to enter the profession. After graduating from the program, Leard actually ended up buying the company he had apprenticed with from a former instructor.

“It gets your foot in the door,” he said.

Other graduates have gone on to work for municipal parks, golf courses, garden centres, nurseries and other horticulture-related businesses.

The B.C. 2025 Labour Market Outlook estimates 1,190 jobs for landscape and horticulture technicians and specialists will open up by 2025.

The NIC’s horticulture program runs in the Comox Valley, begins Jan. 29, 2018 and takes place over 12 weeks. Students graduate in time for the busy growing season.

Prospective students need to register with the Industry Training Authority, but those without an employer to sponsor them can receive sponsorship from Horticulture Education BC.

Students study during evenings and weekends, allowing them to hold on to current employment while they prepare for their new career.

NIC horticulture instructor Zac Kregosky, owner of landscaping company Plants I Dig, said the apprenticeship program gives students the technical skills to succeed as well as fundamental health and safety and equipment maintenance knowledge.

“We’re not here to teach you to mow lawns — we’re here to train you to be more of a technical gardener,” Kregosky said.

Completing the program will give students a chance to go on to a career where they can enjoy the outdoors and take pleasure in transforming a garden or landscape.

For more information or to register, visit

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