Blenheim Palace is a site where heritage, innovation, and sustainability unite to create a workplace like no other.
Originally gifted from Queen Anne to the Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, following his victory at the Battle of Blenheim on 13 August 1704, Blenheim Palace remains the home of prominent British history.
Now, over 320 years later, its legacy continues to grow as the next generation of landscapers gain access to first-hand experience and training throughout its grounds.
Having announced its 10-year plan to train more than 100 apprentices by the year 2027, Blenheim believes that it has the ability to provide a structured programme of learning, with the support and encouragement required to produce a successful workforce that is both passionate and skilled in their trade.
In January of this year, the world heritage site confirmed that it is on track to achieve this target with 50 apprentices having already completed the schemes and an additional 38 undergoing training, six of which are currently within the estate team.
CEO Dominic Hare says he is immensely proud of the programme: “Our apprentices are some of our best people, and they are also injecting a new lease of life into the veteran staff who are being given the opportunity to teach their trades to a new generation.”
Emma Norridge, people manager at Blenheim, adds: “Originally, our motivation stemmed from a desire to actively connect with the local community, fostering opportunities for personal development while collaborating with schools and colleges to promote diverse job prospects and careers.
“Our overarching goal was to reshape the narrative surrounding apprenticeships, highlighting the untapped potential they hold. We initiated a transformative shift by extending apprentice opportunities to individuals across all levels of our current employees. For instance, one of our team members recently achieved a significant milestone by completing a degree-level apprenticeship.”
The palace offers a range of land-based apprenticeships, including horticulture and landscape operative, Level 2; landscape or horticulture supervisor Level 3; stockperson Level 2; arborist Level 2, game and wildlife management Level 2; and supply chain warehouse operative Level 2.
Understanding that this is an ambitious goal, Blenheim is committed to supporting people in learning new skills and trades. Norridge says: “We feel proud to watch our apprentices grow into new roles and recognise that this means they move on to new opportunities within the wider community.” However, Norridge also encourages the apprentices to take on higher apprenticeship levels to further their growth, and therefore secure roles across the estate. “It is brilliant to watch them grow on take on new opportunities!”
With such a vast array of opportunities available, what might a student expect from these palace apprenticeships?
“An apprenticeship in our Estate teams and across the business combines hands-on experience and structured learning. Within our teams and especially within our Estate teams, we have true experts in their fields, and apprentices will benefit from learning from these people and integrating into teams with a wealth of knowledge,” says Norridge.
Apprentices are given true responsibilities and are able to add value to the estate and make a real difference. According to Norridge, they are also then part of a wider team where apprentices are encouraged to take part in our sharing a sense of belonging timetable, where they can meet others from across the business and get to know other apprentices in different specialisms.
Apprentices benefit not only from the support of their managers but also the people team and their college providers.
“We encourage all teams with an apprentice to provide them a mentor, and we also check in with them regularly. They are treated like any other team member and so have access to our vast array of wellbeing support. This includes support from our wellbeing champions, access to our external employee assistance programme, and we provide everyone with the opportunity to take part in our sharing a sense of belonging timetable of activities,” says Norridge.
Those undertaking an apprenticeship within Blenheim or Pye Homes become part of its mission to share and protect these locations for future generations to come.
Enhancing the lives of local people and part of the lifeblood of the local economy, its apprenticeship opportunities are open to all of its employees as well as those in the community, which is why there is such a diverse group of people and diverse set of skills that are being learnt.
Apprenticeships provide a great opportunity for those who would like a more practical, hands-on learning approach rather than going to university. This approach focuses on a specific career path, allowing apprentices to apply their learning to real-life work-place experiences.
An apprenticeship is available for all ages at various stages of their lives, from students as their first-time employment after their last year of school, to employees who would like to gain further skills and develop in their job role and to those who want a complete career change.
“Apprentices gain real-life experiences throughout their apprenticeship, increasing their confidence and skills within their role, therefore enhancing their employability following the apprenticeship. Current employees who complete an apprenticeship will also develop their skills and experiences, increasing their opportunity for career progression and provide them with a wider breadth of knowledge to enhance their contributions to their teams. We also benefit greatly from our apprentices as they enhance their skills and share this knowledge with their colleges and teams. This positively impacts the overall success of our business,” says Norridge.
Recognising national apprenticeship week from the 5 to 11 February, Blenheim Palace is a key advocate for this ever growing route into the landscaping industry.