0 Learning from good practice:

Bath5.jpgBath and North East Somerset Council took on three horticulture apprentices in 2008. In the first year of their Level 2 apprenticeship framework, the apprentices gained experience in a broad range of areas, with month-long placements in areas including city parks, playing fields, botanical gardens, landscaping and nurseries.

Robert Standen, Operations Manager for Open Spaces, explains: "The monthly rotation system enables the apprentices to develop a broad range of skills and knowledge. It helps them to really understand the job and how we work as an organisation. It's also a chance for both sides to see which areas each apprentice gels with best."

The monthly placements are based on seasonal tasks, which means that the parks and open spaces team benefits from additional help when it's most needed. The apprentices have also spent time shadowing managers, helped with preparation for flower shows and competitions, and taken part in a week-long 'job swap' with a grounds apprentice at Bath Spa University.

"There's a degree of flexibility in the schedule, so if one of the apprentices wants to spend a bit longer in a certain area so that they can finish off a task, we try to accommodate this," says Robert. "We took one of our apprentices on for a specific role in sports grounds, so he follows a more specialised programme of monthly placements."

The apprentices will continue to follow a rotation system in the second year of the programme, with opportunities to cover more specialist areas and gain more experience of management duties.


Example apprentice schedule

Month

Task

January

City centre parks - sustainable planting

February

City centre parks - shrub pruning

March

Nursery unit - summer bedding preparation

Mechanical workshop experience

April

Playing fields - early season preparation

Work on Bath Spring Flower Show

May

Nursery unit - hanging basket preparation

Management experience - attend management meetings

June

City centre parks - summer bedding planting

Britain in Bloom experience - judging and awards

1 week 'apprentice swap' with local university grounds department

July

City centre parks - parks maintenance

Management experience - green waste management and composting

August

Botanical gardens - herbaceous planting

September

Botanical gardens - rock gardens

October

Playing fields - end of season schedule

November

City centre parks - autumn bedding including bulb planting

December

Landscaping - trees and winter planting

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