New country, new life
Christopher (Chris) Henbery left his career as a banker behind when he and his young family left England in 2011. He wanted to start life in his new country in a new career doing something he loved. That love was plants, so he applied for a horticulture apprenticeship with Gardenworld Nursery in Braeside, Melbourne.
“I needed to be earning, and really liked the balance of paid work and on and off the job learning that you get from an apprenticeship,” he says.
Starting from scratch in a new career still involved sacrifice in both money and family time, but according to Chris, “It’s been well worth every bit of it.”
Chris feels that his apprenticeship was world class.
“It was flexible, allowing me to complete in three years instead of four. I was taught at Swinburne University of Technology by industry leaders, and working and studying concurrently built solid knowledge and skills.”
Chris’ job has ranged from customer service and nursery work to a more recent buying role. At work, his greatest enjoyment comes from sharing, whether with the apprentices or with customers.
“If I can spend half an hour with a customer and give them enough understanding to start their own garden, I feel terrific,” he says.
Chris’ sharing doesn’t stop there. He’s developing a website, and after a visit to his wife’s Year 1 class, he wants to introduce plants to more young school children.
During his apprenticeship, Chris’ talent, passion and achievement were recognised through numerous awards from Swinburne and the horticulture industry. In 2015 he completed his Certificate III in Horticulture (Retail Nursery), won Victoria’s Apprentice of the Year title, was an Australian Training Awards finalist and was appointed an Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador for the Australian Government.
Australian Apprenticeships are now also a passion with Chris.
“I want to share my story so more people know what an apprenticeship offers them. I’d also like to open my own nursery in the future and offer apprenticeships to give others the same opportunities I’ve had.”
Watch Chris in action here: The Horticulturist: Chris's Story.