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Existing customers: 01438 717175

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Category: Corporate Social Responsibility

National Apprenticeship Awards

Welwyn-based Grounds Maintenance company John O’Conner has been selected as a national finalist in the National Apprenticeship Awards Large Employer of the Year category. This follows on from their recent regional award as  Large Employer of the Year for the East of England.  John O’Conner continues to invest in apprenticeships.  In 2016, the company increased the pay rates of their apprentices. Their apprentices also benefit from additional training such as Royal Horticultural Society-hosted master-classes where they receive privileged insight into centuries-old traditional practices combined with modern-day techniques from experienced Park Rangers (former 1950’s apprentices themselves). We are a nation of gardeners.

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Three Peakers Ride Again

Six years ago I took part in the UK 3 Peaks 24 hour challenge to raise funds for Greenfingers. We were a group of landscape professionals coming together for a very good cause. Three years later I re-joined the group, this time we decided to go back and climb the 3 highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales but cycle from the foot of each mountain to the foot of the next in just 5 days. It was a massive challenge for some of us! But the bonus was raising over £26,000 for our industry charity.

This September on Sunday 18th,

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Apprenticeship Levy Are we ready?

There has been lots written in the press about the new apprenticeship levy, that is being introduced in April 2017. I believe it will change how we view and run apprenticeships beyond recognition. There will certainly be an increase of cash in the system. In the Horticultural Industry our new trailblazer standard has been approved and is now ready to be used as the framework for training operatives and supervisors. The whole principle of the trailblazers are to have good quality apprenticeship programmes that are employer led. If the reforms work as expected the whole process should be very straightforward from start to finish and this should have an impact on the skills gap.

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Young Enterprise Company Programme

I had a really enjoyable couple of days with teams from the Hertfordshire Young Enterprise this weekend. I had been asked to join the Mayor of Welwyn Hatfield District Council (WHDC) Cllr Lynne Sparks and Rachel Walsh also of WHDC to judge a mini competition linked to the youth company programme. Sixteen enterprising school student companies had been invited to come and set up trade stands to test their entrepreneurial and business skills.

The teams have been learning how to run real a real company that they have set up themselves, with help and advice from local business volunteers.

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Driver Style add to our Quartix vehicle Tracking System

As a company we have been extremely pleased with the features available on our Quartix vehicle tracking system. The most recent addition is driver style information and we are now starting to make real use of it. I am convinced it will improve our driver’s safety and make our fleet more efficient.

The Quartix driving tracking technology that we use in our vehicles is delivering so many benefits to our company, to our customers and to the environment as a whole. The new management tool to improve drivers’ style is now giving us a great deal of control over efficiency,

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Visit to House of Commons

As part of National Apprentice week I was delighted to attend the ‘Made by Apprentices’ event held at the House of Commons today (10/3/2015), I was joined by Jack Peters one of our Horticultural Apprentices. The event was for SME’s to showcase what apprentices can achieve and how they can help businesses flourish. Both Andrew Jones MP & Apprenticeship Ambassador in Parliament and Skills Minster Nick Boles both took time to speak to Jack and learn more about his story with John O’Conner Grounds Maintenance. During the afternoon event both myself and Jack were able to speak to business yet to get on board with apprenticeships and hopefully we have convinced them of the many benefits;

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Training and Development

As we start to move into the Autumn our contract managers minds will have one eye on their winter training programme. At John O’Conner we have established a Training and Development Policy that actively encourages all staff to take a career focused approach to their employment and we are committed to helping our people realise their full potential through continual improvement and development.  This commitment is evidenced through our Investors in People accreditation which was re awarded in the summer of 2014

As a ‘people focused’ business it is our pledge to:

 Actively encourage and support our people to gain the skills and qualifications required to meet the needs of our business and to support their future  employability.

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A breath of fresh air for community spaces

Sharing Vernon Square’s 25 year celebrations

I have attended some very interesting but very different events recently, all linked to horticulture and the communities that support it.

Firstly, last Saturday, (17 May) it was my great pleasure to attend a reception to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the re-opening of Vernon Square on the Isle of Wight. This stunningly beautiful regency town garden – the only one on the island, as it happens – is cared for by Vernon Square Preservation Society, an organisation set up in the late ‘80s to ensure that this space is maintained as a green oasis of calm for everyone to enjoy.

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National Apprenticeship Week 3-7th March 2014

We have been busy throughout the business this week engaging with National Apprenticeship Week organised by the National apprenticeship Service (NAS). This year the week has three main objectives

Increase awareness, understanding and demand for Apprenticeships Celebrate Apprenticeship talent, skills, achievements and successes Promote all Apprenticeship levels and progression routes, including Traineeships

And the one overarching theme is “Great Apprenticeships”

highlighting to employers that “Great Businesses” are made by apprentices highlighting to consumers (primarily young people and their parents) that Apprenticeships lead to “Great Prospects.”

As a company we have seen the success that comes with having a good quality apprenticeship programme and last year being highly commended in the regional awards was a real highlight.

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A new role to help nurture and grow apprenticeships in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire

I’m really pleased to announce that I have agreed to become an Apprenticeship Ambassador for the Hertfordshire and South Cambridgeshire Ambassador Network.

This network has recently been set up to help spread the word about the value that apprentices can bring to organisations.

There’s a lot of research to suggest that one of the best ways to get new employers involved with apprenticeship schemes is for peer groups to spread the word. The avowed aims of the network are to:

Champion apprenticeships to employers of all sizes, with the aim of increasing the number of apprenticeship opportunities offered across Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire,

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