Gristwood & Toms slams college courses and apprenticeships

The UK's largest contactor dealing solely in arboriculture, Gristwood & Toms, has little use for college courses or apprenticeships, according to director Dave Gristwood.

"For us, colleges are a waste of time," he said. "They will do the training but not assess the students, or they may not have the trees on which to do any work."

The company's experience of apprenticeships has been no more positive, he added. "The training costs are met by the Government but it says: 'Use these people because they are the ones we fund' - even if they're useless. So we just thought: 'Scrap that.'"

Instead, the company relies on recruiting experienced operatives directly, he explained. "We take lads on and help them to progress from the bottom up - put them through chainsawing, rigging, stump grinding, in compliance with legislation. It can take them three years before they climb a tree - if they show aptitude."

- See company profile in next week's Horticulture Week.

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