Landscaper Hambrooks has provided apprenticeships for 17 young people to begin a career in landscaping and horticulture this year in partnership with Apprentices for Business and linked to Sparsholt College.
The company's managing director, Norman Hambrook, said investing in apprenticeships is vital to developing expertise in the industry and helping businesses grow organically. "When you take on apprentices, you know they are people who are really interested in the industry - not just somebody looking for a job," he added.
"Youngsters, with their modern outlook, will also help to move the business on and keep it fresh with their new ideas." Hambrook claimed that there is still a shortfall of experienced landscapers due to the previous decline in apprenticeships.
Nicki Gamblin and Chris Sharples have both been apprentices at Hambrooks for six months. Sharples said: "Having hands-on experience makes all the difference, especially when you are taught by experienced people. Being allowed to get on and do things gives you confidence. Being paid to learn is also a big bonus."
Gamblin, who attends Sparsholt College as apart of her apprenticeship, added: "There is lots more technical jargon than I expected, but it isn't boring because you are learning by doing."
Hambrook said there is a need for the UK to nurture greater respect for industries in which workers use their hands and to take these manual skills as seriously as those earned through academic learning within universities.
Green skills gap
The Government is set to release the Richard Independent Review of Apprenticeships, examining how apprenticeships can benefit not only the individual but also the businesses that provide them and the wider economy.
The Government has also increased spending on the UK apprenticeship programme by £200,000 to £1.4bn in a bid to tackle youth unemployment and the manual skills shortage.