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: Francis Avizius
Apprenticeship: Horticulture Operative Apprenticeship
- What first drew you into the industry?
My first experience in the industry was while volunteering for Elmbridge Borough Council around Oxshott and Esher common.
I was nudged towards the industry by the kind people I met while volunteering for the Elmbridge Borough Council. They showed me the different options I could take including Merrist Wood College, which I eventually went for with my employer.
- Can you tell us a bit about your apprenticeship?
I started in July 2023, working to maintain and improve client’s gardens around Guildford with Wonder Gardens Ltd. It is a small company, just me and my employer, offering all aspects of garden care from maintenance to woodwork and customised landscaping.
- What is involved in your job role?
A lot of basic maintenance like pruning, grass cutting, planting and hedge cutting. However, it can also include more complex work like helping to designing a bed with my employer or replacing a bed with grass.
- What type of clients do you cater for?
We have a strong core of regular clients that we meet regularly. Our clients usually cater to the elderly, people with difficulties in managing their own garden. Attention to detail and keeping the personal touch is important, so that our clients are 100% satisfied.
- Why choose an apprenticeship?
I chose an apprenticeship so that I can make money whilst also learning at a college. Work can be any day of the week except Wednesday and Thursday, where I will study at home and be learning at college.
- What are the biggest challenges that you’re experiencing at the moment?
The biggest challenge I face is getting up early in the morning!
- What has been your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement to date would be enjoying what I do. It took a while, but I eventually found myself wanting to get up to go to work and learn at college. I have never had something other than leisure activities that I have found myself being excited for and I am happy that I have found work that I thoroughly enjoy.
- What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the near future are to finish the apprenticeship I’m doing right now and the RHS Level 2 apprenticeship. I plan on getting a Level 3 in Horticulture but after that I am still unsure of where I want to go other than working somewhere outside.
- If you had any words of wisdom for the future generations joining the industry, what would they be?
Drink lots of water and exercise.
“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