“Always two there are, no more no less. A master and an apprentice” – Yoda
In our last blog on education, I promised we would have a closer look at apprenticeships. Apprenticeships have been around since the mid 1500’s and while they saw a decline through the 90’s with the rise of post-16 education, they certainly are not like they used to be, perceived as being purely for the ‘blue collar’ workers and the nonacademic. The new apprenticeship standards for landscaping and horticulture will certainly put you through your paces, they are industry approved, gaining you a nationally recognised apprenticeship and its qualifications on successful completion.
Earn and learn
First and foremost, it’s a real job. You will attend a place of work with the rest of the employees in the company and be expected to carry out a role with support. You’ll receive all the employee benefits, like paid annual leave and contributions to a pension, you will receive a salary, with most landscape companies paying above the minimum wage for an apprentice. The main difference between you and the other employees, is that you will receive 20% (around a day a week) off the job training, which includes learning the theory and being assessed over the apprenticeship period.
One of the biggest differences in choosing an apprenticeship over other education routes, is that most other courses are mainly theory based, apprenticeships are more experience based. This is very attractive for landscape employers who find it a challenge with new employees that have no work experience. Employers are looking for specific landscape and horticulture skills as well as workplace experience, which apprenticeships can provide. The other great thing is that these are all skills and experience you can add to your CV.
Depending on which route you and your employer choose, landscaping or horticulture, you will then focus on the skills in those areas. In landscaping, you will learn how to install various hard-landscape construction features and structures e.g. paths, patios, fences and walls. It also includes how to assess and repair hard structures, evaluate hazards and damage and if appropriate carry out repairs or produce a report. When you are ready (usually between 12 and 18 months into the apprenticeship), you will be put forward for the End Point Assessment (EPA), on successful completion you will have passed your apprenticeship.
Because the new apprenticeship standards have been developed in conjunction with employers, this has created a set of standards that the industry wants and needs. The skills you will be learning and developing are up-to-date and industry relevant and what’s more, there are apprenticeships from level 2 (GCSE) standard to level 5 (foundation degree, HND coming soon), so you can start at a level that suits you. Within the horticulture and landscaping apprenticeship you will also undertake an emergency first aid at work and Safe Use of Pesticides qualification at the level you are studying.
You are starting your career straight away, meaning there will be opportunities to progress within the company. If you start with the level 2 Landscape/horticulture operative and successfully complete this, you could then do the level 3 Landscape/horticulture supervisor and move into a supervisory role. And it doesn’t stop here, our Trailblazers group is putting the finishing touches to the level 5 Landscape/horticulture technical manger apprenticeship, meaning there will be further progression opportunities into management.
Most education paths will generate debt in some form, the first year at university can set you back as much as £9000 in fees. The great thing about an apprenticeship is that it won’t cost you a penny as its mainly funded by the government. Remember you are earning a wage, so you go straight into work with no course fees, potentially debt free and with a better credit rating!
Open to all
Apprenticeships are not just for school leavers; they are open to anyone over the age of 16.
At the heart of the apprenticeship is the unique combination of working, learning and earning, which makes it such an attractive route into the landscape industry.