Apprenticeship success for APL's fresh approach

The Association for Professional Landscapers' (APL) plan to urgently upskill landscape apprentices through a bootcamp-style apprenticeship programme appears to be working, according to employers who benefited from the pilot programme last year.

Neal Marwick, joint owner of Gardenscapes, enrolled employee Jake Abell into the pilot apprenticeship scheme in 2015. Marwick said Abell returned with a strong mix of practical and theoretical skills.

The apprenticeship "allows the students to learn the theory without having to sit in a classroom", teaching them "real time skills that relate back to our business", Marwick told Horticulture Week.

"Through the use of boot camps Jake learned all the skills needed within the industry, and I can't fault any of them."

Marwick added that Abell had perfected his skills rather than just learning them. "If something wasn't done right then it would have to be redone. More colleges need to run these apprenticeship schemes, and I would definitely enrol more employees."

The APL programme was created as a possible solution to the skills shortage across the landscape sector and, according to Gabriel Pol, director of Green Rooms Landscapes and Gardens, it appears to be helping. Pol recruited an employee, Harry Killingworth, onto the 2015 programme.

He said: "Before taking advantage of the apprenticeship programme we were finding it difficult to recruit a new young staff member who had the right mix of intelligence and work ethic to stick at it.

"Through the APL apprenticeship scheme we now have a great new member of our team who we know will be with us for a minimum of two years and is committed, hardworking and good to have around."

Twelve places are now open for registrations on the 2016 apprenticeship programme. They are open to members and non members and give the option of recruiting a new member of staff or training an existing staff member.

The programme is delivered in partnership with Myerscough College and the Landscape Skills Academy. Over two years, apprentices take part in seven intensive five-day bootcamps delivered away from the workplace, with a focus on perfecting specific skills that are often lacking in new landscape employees.

The apprenticeship programme is based on the Diploma in Work-based Horticulture (Level 2). This qualification has a number of learning areas which will be assessed by the apprentice producing work based evidence and uploading onto an e-Portfolio system, alongside intensive off the job training, in the form of the bootcamps. These include paving, levelling, health and safety, relationship-building, powered and non-powered tool use and maintenance and planting

Further support is provided by visits to the workplace to encourage the employee and help create additional structured learning opportunities.

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