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Arts and the Great Outdoors Apprentices

Creative Arts Apprentices

Channi, a Camden care leaver, joined Camden Council in July 2009, working in Culture and Environment as an Inside Track Creative Arts Apprentice. Initially dividing his time between the Arts Information administration team and the Camden Centre, Channi gradually become more involved with the events management and organisation side of the Camden Centre – core aspects of his Level 3 NVQ. Initially, Channi was apprehensive about returning to college and studies. After speaking honestly about his concerns with his tutors and line manager, Channi is now on track to successfully complete his qualification by this summer.

Channi has become a central member of the Camden Centre team and his manager has involved him in organising, delivering and performing at numerous events. These have included: the Venetian Ball; the Golden Ticket Initiative events; Public Weddings and Conferences. This variety enables Channi to gain diverse and valuable experience. The skills he is acquiring in his apprenticeship have already helped him pursue his passion for music outside of work. Time management, note taking, and planning have enabled Channi to organise important meetings and studio recording sessions.

Channi has shown determination and resilience in dealing with numerous challenges during his apprenticeship; from accommodation issues to his concerns around studying. In all situations, he has acted in a pragmatic and mature manner – working with his line manager and tutors to ensure a successful outcome.

After Channi completes his apprenticeship he hopes to continue working with Camden at the Camden Centre and carry on building his skills and knowledge in events management.

Channi’s Feedback:

 Being an apprentice at the Camden centre has been a great experience. Everyone has been so supportive and I couldn’t ask for a better line manager. I have learnt so much about what it takes to plan and run any event

and the energy needed to run an event. I never really thought I could do admin and event management before I came to Camden and my biggest concern was doing the college work but I made it over that bridge now and really am focused on completing this apprenticeship. So for any one who is thinking about doing an apprenticeship in creative arts I strongly recommend it because it’s a good investment in your own life.


Green Space Apprentices

Jake Kane's story:

An apprenticeship in Horticulture at Bexleyheath Secondary school appealed to me for 2 reasons: my love of working with young people and my love for gardening.  This apprenticeship was the perfect way capture my preferences as it gives me the opportunity to build on the level 1 sports leadership qualification I achieved after leaving school and learn more about gardening and landscaping.  The school promote different ways of learning for some of their pupils who have social and emotional aspects of learning and I have been involved working in the garden with some of them.

Since starting my apprenticeship in Autumn 2010 I have experienced a huge range of tasks with the help of my supervisor John Butterworth.  Some of my favourite activities have been planning and starting to build a maze; planting vegetable and flower seeds; learning how to do cuttings and propagate plants; working on the nature garden and pond and starting to prepare an orchard which will hopefully have bees!  I have recently been given sole responsibility to plan a “secret garden”.  This is something I am eager to get started with.  My less favourite time is when it is tipping down with rain or the ground was covered in snow.

I attend Hadlow College and am working towards an NVQ Level 2 in Horticulture and Landscaping.  I’ve successfully passed machinery and maintenance and planting and pruning courses.  The tutor visits and assesses me in the workplace.

I think of the apprenticeship as a passion; I love coming to work and every day is different.  It is so rewarding watching the garden grow and see this kind of work bring the best out of some of the young pupils of the school.  We are about to undertake a charity project where we are growing potatoes in buckets.

Future challenges I face are dealing with suppliers and perfecting the business and financial side of running the garden.  Long term I hope to aspire to learning as much as I can, having a landscape business and teaching horticulture.

Green Space Apprentices

(with thanks to CABE for permission to use these case studies. See their Guide to Green Space Apprentices Opens in a new windowhere.)

Haringey’s parks apprenticeship scheme has been running for five years, and with most of the workforce due to retire within ten years, it aims to provide essential renewal and succession of skills. The parks service is well integrated with the rest of the local council, with monthly ward meetings of all the frontline services such as street cleaning, police and parks which helps co-ordinate work to produce a dramatic visual effect. The staff are particularly proud of the borough’s 12 green flag awards.

Previous apprentices have been successful in obtaining employment as permanent members of staff on applying for vacancies left following the retirement of senior team members.

The CLG grant funding in 2009 enabled two additional apprentices to be taken on. There were 47 applicants for the 2009 apprenticeship posts from adverts in local magazines and newspapers and following a selection process, Chris Russell and Chesney Ellis were recruited.

Chris Russell trained as a motor mechanic to Level 3, but found it boring. His family are keen gardeners, and he has always enjoyed spending time in parks and so decided to apply for the parks apprenticeship. He likes learning on the job, and dealing with machines, flowers and shrubs. Chesney Ellis also started out on a career path he found uninspiring before taking up the parks apprenticeship post. He trained as an electrician to Level 1 as well as retaking an English exam, but found it boring.  He likes to be outside and loves parks and enjoys learning while working. Chris and Chesney both value family interest and support for their apprenticeship.

The apprentices follow the national Level 2 apprenticeship framework at Capel Manor College. Mentoring is provided by the college tutor and by their manager. Supervisors try to be aware of and follow the college plan and assist the apprentices with college work. The manager is pleased with the apprentices because they are keen, having made a positive career choice, and, living close to their parks, they are expected to stay for a long time.

The apprenticeship scheme adds value to the Haringey parks service, particularly in the light of the current need for efficiency savings, as it helps to protect the area, maintaining and improving standards. The apprenticeship scheme has enabled additional work, for example in response to recommendations from the Green Flag judges, a new shrub border has been created and mulched with recycled garden waste from the neighbouring borough’s composting plant. This compost is also provided free of charge for the borough’s allotments.

Training offered to staff includes day courses from Capel Manor College on specific subjects such as maintaining herbaceous plants and longer courses on specialist areas such as sports turf. It is also a very welcoming workplace that respects and encourages diversity. The neighbourhood manager says that Haringey has come a long way in the past ten years, and the apprenticeship scheme has played a significant part in this.


Newham is used the CLG apprenticeship grant to fund additional green space apprentices with Serco, the contractor delivering their green space services.

In line with local policies ensuring local jobs go to local people, the apprenticeships were advertised via Workplace, a local council organisation focusing on the needs of long term unemployed local people. Ten were selected from an initial 24 applicants for further interviews and apprentices appointed. The managers gave in-house training to the apprentices to get them up to college screening level for numeracy and literacy so that they could be accepted for college training.

The three apprentices, Lee Catterick, Mehar Singh and Sam Peters, are all contributing to, and benefitting from, the apprenticeship in different ways. Lee, who had had a spell in prison, had done some part time and voluntary gardening. He was keen to learn more about gardening but had registered with Workplace for short building courses before being accepted as a parks apprentice at Newham. Lee wants expertise and to be multi-tasking. The best thing about the role for Lee is learning new skills, seeing the wildlife, and the hard work.

Sam’s whole family are keen horticulturalists and he has had several gardening jobs before taking on the Newham apprenticeship. Following in his father’s footsteps, who is a groundsman for Serco in Newham, Sam finds the best thing is the reward of being able to answer a question from a member of the public, such as about how to mark a right angle on a football pitch - to be an expert.

Mehar did business studies at college, but did not complete the course, and subsequently worked for seven years in retailing. He did short courses, but retailing was not the business for him, so he left. As he and his mother are passionate gardeners, Workplace directed him to the parks apprenticeship and now he enjoys the fresh air, the variety of work and learning, and the pleasure in achieving a well kept place. He enjoys asking technical questions at college and work and gets up in the morning keen to come to work. Mehar has been very surprised and impressed to find that in horticulture everyone helps everyone else with their work; unlike in retailing where it is rare for someone to offer a hand.

The apprentices study at Capel Manor College one day a week, being transported there in the morning and given the fare home. The apprentices’ work programme and experience is planned for variety and to tie in with college, and to allow apprentices to choose their interests. Newham adds value to the apprenticeship by sharing the training with the Royal Parks and Corporation of London, swopping apprentices for a few days at a time so that they can learn in different environments. This range of experience also looks good on the apprentice’s CV.

Newham plans to enter the apprentices in the APSE Horticultural Apprentice of the Year competition next year. Serco also has internal awards and celebrates the achievements of its staff, particularly in their in-house magazine.

Newham’s ageing parks workforce (employed by Serco), with many staff due to retire within five years makes succession planning a priority. Apprenticeships are seen as the solution and many of Newham’s most experienced parks staff worked their way up from an apprenticeship prior to their decline due to compulsory competitive tendering in the 1980s. The council contracts out its park services, currently on a five-year contract with Serco but the contract specifies that two new green space apprentices must be appointed every year, with the aim of employing them at end of the apprenticeship. The apprenticeships were part of the contract negotiation with some contractors pricing it high as a liability, while others priced it low as a benefit. Serco’s managers are very keen on apprenticeships.



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