Apprenticeship Levy sparks partnership between John O'Conner and Capel Manor College

John O'Conner is launching a new apprenticeship scheme for 18-24 year-olds with Capel Manor College in response to the Government's Apprenticeship Levy.

John O'Conner's apprentices supporting National Apprenticeship Week. Image: John O'Conner
John O'Conner's apprentices supporting National Apprenticeship Week. Image: John O'Conner

The Hertfordshire-based grounds maintenance contractor has 15 apprentices currently and will employ 10 more to do a two-year Amenity Horticulture Apprenticeship in the ‘three counties’ area of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The programmes are full time with day release at Capel Manor in north London.  

John O’Conner will continue to work with its other existing college outside of the three counties area - Plumpton, Birmingham Technical, Abingdon & Witney and Sparsholt.

A Capel Manor spokesperson said: "These new qualifications promise to provide young entrants into the industry with all of the knowledge and skills they need to become first-rate horticulturalists.  

"As a college we know this aspiration can only be realised by working in partnership with first class employers that are as equally committed as us to the future well-being of the Industry. John O’Conner is just such an employer."

John O’Conner bid writer Jillian Lilico said its new scheme utilises the Apprenticeship Levy, which came into force at the beginning of this month. As an employer with an annual wage bill of £3m or more, John O'Conner must pay the levy at a rate of 0.5%.

"There’s been a lot of scepticism in the industry as to the levy’s usefulness, but this shows our commitment to the Apprenticeship Levy," she said.

The company, which has been named a Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer is holding an Apprentice Open Day in July, with shortlisted candidates offered a work experience week in August with a view to joining the team in early September.

John O’Conner has taken on 54 apprentices since it launched its first apprenticeship programme in 2011. Numbers rose from an annual average of six recruited between 2011 and 2013 to an average of 12 between 2014 and 2016. All apprentices who complete their apprenticeship get jobs on John O’Conner contracts.

John O’Conner was the Regional Winner of the East of England National Apprenticeship Large Employer of the Year and a national finalist in the same category for the UK earning the Highly Commended Award.

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