Employability Training – Apprenticeships
Written by: Greensand Country Team
This project built on the successes of the Study Programme, by providing four learners with an apprenticeship with different partner organisations to support and development conservation skills and employability.
Apprentices were directly supported by Shuttleworth College, who provided employability training and supported the learners were appropriate with developing communication skills. Apprenticeship were taken up with the Forest of Marston Vale Trust and Wassledine; the Swiss Garden at Shuttleworth, Clophill Heritage Trust, and with Tim Buckingham.
Receiving feedback from the apprentices that they had improved their confidence and learnt practical skills was a particular achievement of the project. Local forestry contractors also showed interest in recruiting one of the apprenticeships, demonstrating that the programme had improved their employability.
Benefits to People
The main benefit to people was by improving their employability skills, such as interview technique, working with different teams, and communication skills. This has helped the apprentices to fit in with the teams at their host organisations, as well as boost their confidence in applying for employment or further study.
Benefits to Heritage & Landscape
Heritage is better understood as the apprenticeships have been able to gain first-hand experience of how to work with heritage skills and in historic environments. For example, by shadowing Jane and Guy at Wassledine, one apprentice was able to understand how woodland management practices are undertaken. Equally, working within the Swiss Garden at Shuttleworth has given them an appreciation of the sensitivities of working in a historic designed landscape.
The landscape will be benefited indirectly by the training of young people in the essential skills of land-management. These will provide a future pool of individuals with the knowledge to preserve rural crafts and understand how to work in landscape conservation.
Challenges & Lessons Learnt
The main challenge was to try and secure future employment for the apprentices. Unfortunately the host organisations were not able to offer employment, which meant that the apprentices has to either find alternative employment or went into further study at Shuttleworth.
More liaison with larger partners could have helped to secure positions for the apprentices after their terms finished, thereby ensuring that their skills learned were being put to use in their work.
I think that the apprenticeship as a whole has been a really good experience and has given me a good step in the right direction and has given me a really good start on my career journey. It has made me more confident in myself at doing practical tasks but also communication skills which I was good at anyway, but it has improved. I also think this apprenticeship has made me grow up more by working with a team that is quite a lot older than me. I have learnt plant names and many practical skills that I will take with me for life.