Colleges team up with business to help graduates find work

Official figures suggesting more graduates than ever before will struggle to find work have prompted two horticultural colleges to try to improve job prospects.

They have teamed up with a businessman to run a competition to find a "green-fingered apprentice" to work in grounds-upkeep or landscaping. The student at Sheffield or Derby colleges who reaches the top in tests will win the placement at Pople Landscapes & Shed Ground Maintenance for £6.50 an hour.

Managing director Peter Botham said: "Rather than simply undertaking conventional interviews I am searching for five hopefuls to do assignments with my team."

Challenges include basic design of landscape installation, proficiency in tool handling, knowledge of on-site health-and-safety practice, and plant and weed identification.

Instead of conventional CVs, Botham asked the students to record a film of less than two minutes to explain why they should be part of this sector.

At least one in 10 of this summer's graduates will fail to find a job six months after they leave university, the Higher Education Careers Services Unit has said.

Botham said: "It's tougher than ever for graduates to gain work experience, never mind secure full-time employment. We can give a taste of a career in horticulture."

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