Taking place between the 5 and 11 February 2024, National Apprenticeship Week highlights the popular alternative to joining the world of work. We teamed up with Merrist Wood College, the 400-acre, multi-award-winning college that specialises in the land-based industries, to find out more.
Name Fin Keele-Goorich
Course/apprenticeship: Landscape Operative Apprenticeship
- How did you first come into the industry?
My brother did maintenance for Taming Mother Nature, and I went there to labour last summer and really enjoyed it and wanted to improve my skills. I discussed with my boss to support me to come to Merrist Wood College one day a week to get my qualifications. He was happy to support me.
- What do you do?
I have been given responsibility of setting out and constructing hard landscape features. I joined in June 2022, working with around 23 other employees. Mixing, clearing up, leading, communications and assisting the team.
- How much work does the company take on?
Enough to keep us going! Usually three projects at once, plus maintenance jobs of which there are six teams doing about 100 houses a month.
- What services do you they offer?
We offer maintenance, landscaping and tree surgery. We cater for high end domestic clients. Usually, large properties but sometimes schools and smaller properties too. We don’t undertake much commercial work.
- Why choose an apprenticeship?
I didn’t like full time education; sitting in a classroom inside everyday wasn’t for me as I prefer to be outside every day.
- What is your weekly schedule like?
Four days a week work, one day a week at Merrist Wood College. I really enjoy getting up and going to work so the balance between work and my education is great.
- What are the biggest challenges that you’re experiencing at the moment?
Drainage issues! We recently ran over on a job because it took longer to find a way for water to drain efficiently.
- What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Building a concrete hollow wall (nine inches by eight courses high) as I had never done it before, so it was a great achievement for me.
- What are your plans for the future?
Owning my own landscaping business
- If you had any words of wisdom for the future generations joining the industry, what would they be?
Try it; it’s different to being school and you learn great transferable skills for the industry as well as other industries that may interest you later on. I’m really positive about working outside but be prepared for some long cold days in the winter!
“National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is an opportunity for the education and skills sector to celebrate the achievements of apprentices around the country and the positive impact they make to communities, businesses, and the wider economy.”
According to the government, an apprenticeship is a paid job where the employee learns and gains valuable experiences. Combining on-site training with classroom based learning, apprenticeships spend on average 20% of their time in a college or university environment, allowing for up to 80% of their time to be used for hands-on, paid experience. Leading to a nationally recognised qualification, apprenticeships continue to grow in popularity.
We teamed up with Merrist Wood College, the 400-acre, multi-award-winning college that specialises in the land-based industries, to find out more.
“Get the best of both worlds: the ability to earn while you learn.” – Merrist Wood College
When becoming an apprentice, you’ll be working for a company – receiving wages, holiday pay, and statutory sick pay, whilst also training or studying for a formal qualification. Merrist Wood College work alongside businesses that provide genuine jobs where apprentices are treated and respected like any other employee. They typically work a minimum of 30 hours a week on a contract that lasts at least 12 months. Programmes usually last for between one to two years and offer a direct route into employment. “Employers are keen to hire people who can hit the ground running,” says Merrist Wood College.
“Apprenticeships aren’t just for school leavers: nearly a third of our current apprentices are over the age of 19. So, whatever your age, get in touch to kickstart your career!” – Merrist Wood College