The first seven Intermediate Apprentices signed up to a Level 2 Diploma in Horticultural Certificate at the college this week. A further 10 trainees and 13 advanced apprenticeships will enrol in May.
Oldham college staff approached the council’s environmental management team nearly a year ago asking if the two could work together on grounds maintenance of the college's Rochdale Road campus and potential landscape developments. The partners are also discussing a land-based skills centre linked to Alexandra Park, which has won several Green Flags.
Oldham College deputy principal Debra Woodruff said: "A local offer of this kind is long overdue and we look forward to being able to deliver this in the first class surroundings that Oldham’s parks offer.
"The partnership will also offer traineeship opportunities for local people to progress into sustained employment, and provide work experience placements for our students.
"We believe this is the start of a true partnership to upskill Oldham residents and allow them to compete in the Greater Manchester labour market."
The council already ran parks apprenticeship schemes but has paid for training from an outside provider for the past 15 years.
Oldham Council’s cabinet member for employment and skills Shoab Akhtar said: "We have always had the vision that this could be delivered within the borough for Oldham Council staff and residents.
"Thanks to our partnership with Oldham College this has now come to fruition. We now want to build on that and create a learning offer for people across the region - ensuring Oldham is at the heart of learning and education within the sector. This not only provides a superb educational opportunity but also brings with it an economic benefit to the town."
She said the borough’s apprenticeship schemes enabled Oldham to have some of the best public parks in Britain.