Shortlisted candidate number 9 - Ellis Molyneux

Stuck in a "dead-end" job working nights in a warehouse, Ellis Molyneux was keen to learn a trade so searched for an apprenticeship on Government website

Ellis Molyneux enjoys the variety of his work
Ellis Molyneux enjoys the variety of his work

He considered becoming either a plumber or electrician but had always enjoyed working in his parents' and grandparents' gardens in Borehamwood. When he saw an opportunity at Welwyn company John O'Conner, he knew it was for him.

A year later he was given charge of his first team and now manages up to two colleagues, ensuring shrubs on his route in Borehamwood and Elstree are pruned and the beds free of litter and mulched if necessary.

Two years in, he has completed the NPTC level 2 work-based diploma in amenity horticulture and is currently studying for level 3, both at Capel Manor College. He passed his driving test and is responsible for driving a company van, and is praised by colleagues, clients and members of the public while working on the contract with Hertsmere Council. He particularly enjoys planting and says he would like to learn more about landscape construction.

"I like the variety of what we're doing - the work's always changing. I love working outside and getting out and about," says the 22 year old. "They've shown some trust in me, putting me in charge of a team. I work where I live as well, which is nice because I'm putting something back in to the community. My family were pleased I got out of a dead-end job and I really like the group of friends I work with - they started as colleagues but they're friends now."

Molyneux's manager Geoff Kazer says it was really unusual for an apprentice to be given responsibility so early, but he is enthusiastic and showed an interest straight away. "He's conscientious and does a good job on the shrubs. He gets on and does the job, and we've had good feedback from clients. He's always got a bit of time to talk to members of the public. We trust him and are very impressed with him."

Kazer adds that Molyneux is strong in all areas, responds well to criticism and listens to his team. "If they've got a particular concern and he thinks it's worth it, he'll take it on board. He's also firm and won't take any messing about - they all respect each other.

"I've got the utmost respect for the lad. If he stays at John O'Conner I can see him progressing right up the scale to regional manager, or I can see him being a head gardener at a large park."

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