The first masterclass took place from 26 – 30 October and was hosted by North Warwickshire and Hinckley College in Nuneaton.
Seven young landscapers entered a five-day intensive paving course run by Jody and Tim Lidgard, from The Landscapes Skills Academy. Overall six companies were involved - Hambrook Landscapes, P A Spittles Landscapes, Earthstone Landscapes, Oakley Landscapes, Rowland George Gardens and Bespoke Outdoor Spaces.
The aim of the workshops is to improve the abilities of young landscapers, and so improve the landscaping industry. "It's a skill area where the industry is lacking," Jody Lidgard explained.
Each landscaper was individually assessed, with training tailored to their experience.
Lidgard added: "The important points to hone are consistently working on a prepared bed which in turn makes the laying process easier. I'm conscious of them working cleanly and efficiently, and getting used to doing a full day of paving. Although it's a simulated environment, they are still experiencing six- to eight-hour days."
The delegates spent a full day at the site, often arriving before breakfast to get early morning work done, and staying after dinner for evening theory sessions. Landscapers reportedly showed a visible improvement in skills over the week.
APL supporters Makita delivered their Be Safe course focusing on safety philosophy for good workshop and site practice.
Trainess carried out different tasks covering all areas of paving, such as using a variety of stones, each requiring a different techniques. Delegates were not only expected to build up speed and accuracy when laying a large area of paving, but were also asked to work in teams, in order to get them used to working with different people's skill sets and nuances.
The APL will be delivering more paving masterclasses in 2016/17, as well as covering other aspects of landscaping skill areas, for both beginners and more advanced individuals. The supports the wider APL Careers Programme to professionally develop landscapers.