Victorian Training Award grows Chris's gardening career

Learn about Chris Henbery's training and career journey since winning the 2015 Apprentice of the Year Award.

Chris Henbery is not afraid of change – and having taken on a new country and a new career, he is now reaping the seeds of success.

Migrating from London with his Australian wife and two-year-old son in 2011, Chris decided to indulge his passion for gardening over the career in banking and finance he left behind.

'With a whole new life ahead of me, I decided to take the plunge and do something I was passionate about, and that was gardening,' Chris says. 'So I began a Certificate III in Horticulture (Retail Nursery) at Swinburne University of Technology while doing my apprenticeship at Gardenworld Nursery in Melbourne.'

Becoming a mature age apprentice has ultimately paid off.

'Being able to combine study and work was a massive benefit,' Chris says.

I've never looked back and I've progressed to being Head Greenlife Buyer at the nursery, overseeing the buying team as well as managing the nursery one day a week. I've also continued to build my skills by completing a Diploma of Horticulture.

Chris's success was evident early in his apprenticeship. Within one year of training, he was awarded a $1,000 Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria (NGIV) scholarship which he put towards his studies.

In 2013, he won the NGIV Apprentice of the Year Award, the Swinburne University of Technology Outstanding Apprentice of the Year and a bronze medal for an inspirational garden design at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

Another award from Swinburne for Academic Achievement in 2014 was followed by the Apprentice of the Year Award in the 2015 Victorian Training Awards. He then represented Victoria in the Australian Training Awards.

VTAs boost confidence and opportunities

'My involvement in the awards gave me a big boost in confidence and opened up opportunities and networks with industry mentors and fellow award participants,' Chris says. 'I'm still in touch with many people I met at the awards and it's great to be able to share experiences and other people's journeys.'

Chris also enjoys sharing his experiences by being an Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador, giving talks at TAFEs and schools to spread the word about vocational education and training.

'I'm proof that through the TAFE system you can indulge your passion, build your career and change your life—and that's the message I want to give others,' Chris says. 'Now I have a career I love and can continually build on my learning.'

For someone like me who one day wants to have their own business and offer apprenticeships to others, that's going to really help me broaden my skill base as I work to achieve my goal.

VTA-Chris Henbery