As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2017, we visited the Plants and Paving Company, based in Cramlington, near Newcastle Upon Tyne.
They employ six apprentices that are currently enrolled on the national APL Landscaping Apprenticeship programme. Launched by the Association of Professional landscapers in partnership with Myerscough College in the autumn of 2015, the scheme aims to provide the landscaping industry with a high standard apprenticeship which includes off the job training with seven, 5-day “boot camps” over the two year programme. (click here for more details: http://www.myerscough.ac.uk/news/naw2017-golden-future-for-apl-learners/)
Graeme started the business in 1999 and over the past 20 years the business has grown to the point where they now have three separate teams covering a variety of landscaping and garden design work over the North East. Each team consists of a Team Leader, a 2nd year apprentice and a 1st year apprentice, with the 2nd year taking on the role of mentoring the 1st years, showing them some of the skills required and helping with their apprenticeship work when required.
Graeme sees the apprenticeship scheme as a key part of his business, and says that a proper intensive training scheme is what the industry lacked, saying: ‘’They have benefitted massively from the scheme, with the lads able to develop their skills learnt on the job at college and also bringing in new ideas and perspectives with what they are learning at College.
“I was originally trained in horticulture and I then went onto teach the subject before returning into the industry and setting up the Plants & Paving Company. I’m a strong believer that you can only improve standards with robust training schemes and that this apprenticeship scheme delivers that.
‘’We see a difference in each of the lads after they have been on a boot camp week and this type of training advances the company. We’re really happy with how the recruitment process went as we’ve found a good set of lads, we want each of them to progress and hopefully we can continue to recruit onto the scheme every year as the business grows further and the lads grow and take on more responsibility in the business.”
James Fare is one of the Myerscough tutors who runs the scheme and conducts workplace visits to see some of the work the apprentices have produced. He said: “The scheme has gone from strength to strength as the students have learned and developed their skills throughout the programme. Plants and Paving is a model employer, giving the learners the support and mentoring they need to succeed, and the work I have seen out on-site has been to a very high standard.”
First year apprentice, 17-year-old Robbie Henderson, said: “I didn’t want to go full-time to college, I preferred an apprenticeship as it gave me the opportunity to earn a wage at the same time as learning a trade. The blocks at Myerscough have allowed me to learn new skills and to learn even when I have made mistakes.
‘’I hope to gain enough skills and experience where I can have my own van and run my own team for the company.”
Liam Reeve, 26, is on the second year of the scheme, and said: “I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to undertake the apprenticeship. I’ve expanded my horticultural knowledge particularly on plant identification and garden design.
‘’I’d 100% recommend the scheme to anyone who wants to get into landscaping, hopefully after finishing the Level 2 in summer 2017 we can all go on to complete the Level 3 and continue to expand our knowledge and skills.”
For more information on any of the apprenticeship and work-based learning programmes available for both employers and learners at Myerscough College, please contact the Employer Services team on 01995 642255 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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by Dave Salmon