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14 February 2021

National Apprenticeship Week | Part 1

At idverde we realise the importance of engaging with the next generation of colleagues across our business, whether that be gardeners, landscapers, or more office-based roles.

We believe Apprenticeships are fundamentally important in giving younger people, or, indeed, those who have been the industry some time, the opportunity to learn on the job in a structured way and to gain a qualification.

For National Apprenticeship Week, we’ve been chatting to some of our Apprentices to find out more about their experiences on their learning journey.

Dan Pulham based in East Peckham, Kent

Dan joined idverde in 2019 and decided to enrol on our Apprenticeship through our in-house Performance Campus to broaden his knowledge.

What type of Apprenticeship are you doing?

Level 2 in Horticulture

Why did you decide to do this Apprenticeship? 

I decided I wanted to broaden my knowledge on shrubs and understand more about the ways in which I am supposed to carry out work the right way. Until now, I have only cut things when they are a nuisance instead of when is best for the shrubs, and didn’t know anything about the shrub itself, like its name, family, type or when it’s best to prune.

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Tell us about a recent day at work 

At the moment we are in winter and we are prepping all of our sites for easy maintenance this coming season. So my teammate and I come into work at our allotted time (we have staggered start times to help prevent the spread of Covid). We load up our van with the tools we need to do our work for the day, drive out to site, and look to see what needs doing, ready for a good start. Mostly it’s leaf clearing, scraping weeds off hard standing, moss sweeping, trimming shrubs. Then the next job once this round is complete is to weed kill all our hard standing and shrub bed areas.

Then we head back to the yard, unload our tools and then travel to the country park to offload our green waste. Then it’s home.

What’s an interesting fact you’ve learned during your Apprenticeship so far?

Learning the Latin names for plants and how to break down a shrub’s name to find out about it (Family, Genus, Species, Sub-species, Hybrid) has been the most interesting so far.

What are the best (and the worst!) things about being an Apprentice?

The best is that I am broadening my knowledge every day. The worst is that, due to Covid-19, we are studying at home, but the system does work really well.

Why would you recommend people take up an Apprenticeship with idverde? 

It is really good to learn more about the things that we believe we already know about.

What advice would you give to anyone considering doing an Apprenticeship?

Do it! It will only help you in the long-run. Just pay attention and remember that they are there to help benefit you and the company.

Where would you like to be in five years?

In five years I would have like to have worked my way through a Level 3 in Horticulture and progressed to a Head Gardener or a working supervisor so that I can apply my new-found knowledge every day to help myself, my team, and the company in the future.

What does Dan’s tutor say?

Despite the fact Dan has only been on the Apprenticeship for two months he has already shown his hunger to learn. Dan plays a valued role in the lessons we have held, offering advice to all from his experience, but also listening to what others have to offer.

Dan asks many questions to his with his work for college, which has included how he can use and promote this in his day-to-day work.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, Dan.

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Luke Saggers based at Camberwell New Cemetery in the London Borough of Southwark

Luke completed his Level 2 Horticulture Apprenticeship in July 2020. He’s now a Grounds Maintenance Operative in Camberwell New Cemetery and is rightly proud of how much he learned during his Apprenticeship.

Why did you decide to do this Apprenticeship? 

I had already been working within idverde for two years, and once the opportunity came up to take part in the course it was a no-brainer. I had already learnt a lot from being in horticulture for two years, but this was a way of taking my knowledge to the next level. Through doing the course I could learn a lot about horticulture but also open my eyes up to the different career roles I could pursue within horticulture. In my eyes the sky is the limit so, whenever anything comes up that can better me, I’m in.

What were your favourite parts of your Apprenticeship?

On the whole, the course was very interesting and I enjoyed a lot of it. From classwork to practicals, to day trips, it was a rollercoaster of excitement. However, I must say the favourite part for me would be the practicals as I do like to be hands on. Whether it be strimming, mowing, weeding or even planting, I enjoyed it all.

Did you learn anything during your Apprenticeship that surprised you?

One thing I must say is you learn so much on the course it is crazy. I didn’t think I could take in so much information about something, but I did. I would say the main thing I learned that surprised me was the plant idents. At the beginning I was helpless, it just wouldn’t stick. I couldn’t remember any. Once I knuckled down and put my mind to it slowly but surely it was sticking. Before I knew it, by the time I was ready for my exam I felt confident enough with plant idents.

How has doing the Apprenticeship benefitted you, and how has it affected your long-term career path?

The apprenticeship has benefited me in many ways. All the information I learnt on the course was crazy and it can only benefit me within the horticulture industry. The course takes you through a lot of different sections within horticulture, so getting a good understanding throughout will only help me on my next adventure within horticulture. I have a lot to learn but the course has opened my eyes to what I want in the future and that is to run my own gardening business.

Why would you recommend people take up an Apprenticeship with idverde? 

I would 100% recommend the apprenticeship to others as it could really kick start a career for them and also help them gain knowledge within horticulture. It is serious, but also fun at the same time, so it works well and you can only benefit from the experience.

What advice would you give to anyone considering doing an Apprenticeship?

Don’t hesitate to take advantage of a great opportunity. It could be horticulture isn’t for you, but to not take the chance would be silly, because I’m sure the course can change people’s minds.

Where would you like to be in five years?

I don’t know what the future holds for me as your life could literally change in a day. So I’m very open minded to opportunities arising elsewhere, as well as in horticulture. However, I will always chase my dream to run my own gardening business as that is a priority no matter the circumstances.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, Luke.

Jack Connolly based at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

Jack completed his Level 2 Horticulture Apprenticeship in August 2020. He’s now a Grounds Maintenance Operative in one of London’s most prestigious parks!

Why did you decide to do this Apprenticeship? 

I wasn’t sure what to do when I left college, but I did know I wanted to work outdoors. I came across the opportunity to work at the Olympic Park and took it; an opportunity to apply new skills in a real work setting. Although I wasn’t too clear on my future plans, I knew how valuable the apprenticeship could be, and to me it was a solid stepping stone down the right path.

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What were your favourite parts of your Apprenticeship?

Working on a Gold winning Chelsea Flower Show garden is a unique experience few people get to be a part of, and I can proudly say “I have!” However, there are few places as unique as QEOP. The Olympic Park is a large parkland in the middle of a major sports, media, culture and retail hub, in the middle of East London. Having worked here will be a special point of pride for me, for many years to come, far prouder a feeling than working on any gold medal garden.

Did you learn anything during your Apprenticeship that surprised you?

The size of the landscape industry is larger than I thought. It employees hundreds of thousands of people and generates billions in revenue in the UK. Many people think of it as not very technical or needing much thought, but this is false. The depth of knowledge from some of the people I have worked with is incredible and inspires me to learn and know as much as I can.

How has doing the Apprenticeship benefitted you, and how has it affected your long-term career path?

Apart from learning new skills and knowledge, I have benefited by being able to appreciate what working life is. I have matured and bettered as a person I think; I am more confident now than I was at the start of the apprenticeship. I am less likely to give up when faced with difficulty, I am more persistent in my work and relationships with others, and I am more professional than I was.

In the long-run, the apprenticeship has had a positive impact on my career. I have made good friends, learned new skills and have become a more fulfilled and focused person.

The apprenticeship has triggered a desire and passion to know more and do more. I know that this will drive the progression of my career.

Why would you recommend people take up an Apprenticeship with idverde? 

idverde is one of the largest green space contractors in Europe. Training with them allows apprentices to potentially build a career out of the numerous options idverde can offer across a number of prestigious contracts, as well as building relationships with countless professionals as they progress in their time with idverde.

What advice would you give to anyone considering doing an Apprenticeship?

Seize the day. If you see an opportunity you like, jump on it! Don’t pass something up because it’s unfamiliar or brings you somewhere out of your comfort zone. There is more to the job than mowing lawns and pruning roses, but you need to go out and find those chances. You can be the head groundsman for your favourite club, you could be on a research team in a far off expedition, you could be the leading authority on woodlands in the UK. You can be more than where you start in your career, but it is down to you put the time and effort in to get there, and it will be the best experience of your life learning and earning your way into that dream job.

Where would you like to be in five years?

I would like to one day work in national park as a ranger. The role requires as much scientific knowledge as it does practical experience. That is why over the next five years I want to continue learning as much as I can and being a part of as many practical opportunities as I can. I would like to enter higher education by the end of the next five years and I am confident that I will achieve that.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, Jack.

Jack-Williams

Jack Williams based at Camberwell New Cemetery, Southwark

Why did you decide to do this Apprenticeship? 

I wanted to better my knowledge, understanding and skills within horticulture.

What were your favourite parts of your Apprenticeship?

The best parts were when we would do a group quiz as they became very intriguing and fun to participate in.

How has doing the Apprenticeship benefitted you, and how has it affected your long-term career path?

The apprenticeship for me was like a lifeline. I was either going to end up dead or in prison, it has changed my whole life and how I look at things. I plan to continue my learning within this industry.

Why would you recommend people take up an Apprenticeship with idverde? 

They are a very good company to start off with if it’s your first ever job because they show/teach you everything you need to know.

What advice would you give to anyone considering doing an Apprenticeship?

Grab every opportunity with both hands is what I’ve been taught growing up, so my advice would be to grab the opportunity because you could be missing out.

Where would you like to be in five years?

I would like to be the owner of my own company and be my own boss.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, Jack.