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; the on the job training with a mixture of classroom and work based training is a great way of developing long term skills and has allowed us as employers to tap into new talent, upskill our workforce and be ready and able to grow the business by becoming more productive.
This event was arranged by the National Apprenticeship Service in partnership with the British Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, Apprenticemakers and the Confederation of Training Agencies. The purpose of the event was to celebrate and showcase the positive impact that SMEs have on apprenticeships, the value that apprentices bring to businesses and how hiring apprentices has created growth and opportunities for employers. Speakers included, Skills Minister, Nick Boles, Jason Holt (SME Apprenticeship Ambassador), Andrew Jones MP and Nora Senior (President of British Chamber of Commerce).
Q&A With John O’Conner Grounds Maintenance
1. Why should organisations In the Horticultural Sector employ apprentices?
Apprenticeships are an excellent path to achieving and expanding key skills within an organisation. They not only support young people coming into industries but can be an innovative way to develop, motivate and grow existing staff within the business.
We would advise other companies looking to recruit Apprentices or providing work experience and training opportunities to build up strong links with their training provider. This support will really benefit both the company and the trainees to realise the potential of learning while working.
2. Why do you employ apprentices?
We believe in ‘growing our own’ managers and supervisors from the ground up and many of our past Apprentices are now Team Leaders and Supervisors. Therefore we are growing our own bespoke skill set and contributing to increasing qualifications in our industry.
Providing training opportunities is integral for us, we enforce that they are not just for young people, we provide equal opportunities for our existing staff in partnership with KEITS to provide functional work based training.
3. How have apprentices contributed to successes in your business?
The Apprenticeship scheme has brought increased efficiencies and improved staff performance and motivation levels, this has therefore positively influenced our relationship with our clients. Our Clients have been delighted with the enthusiastic Apprentices and the opportunities the scheme brings.
The business has further benefited from the scheme by seeing an increase in existing employees requesting Work Based training by being positively influenced and encouraged by the Apprentices, enabling us to offer more skills and expertise to our clients. The management requirements of the scheme has also provided opportunities for our existing staff by creating new supervisor and management roles.
4. What are you exhibiting at the Made by Apprentices Event on 10 March 2015?
Our Apprentice will be exhibiting various planting projects and discussing plant identification. This has been a crucial part of the Amenity Horticulture Apprenticeship we provide, taught through practical experience as well as college based learning.
5. Who will be attending from your organisation?
Jack Peters will be attending the event. At 22 years old he has already achieved his Level 2 Diploma in Amenity Horticulture with John O’Conner and is currently working on his Level 3. Jack is involved in all aspects of our specialist grounds maintenance services, from gardening, sports grounds, playgrounds, grass cutting, landscaping and streetscape work.
Matthew O’Conner our Managing Director will be accompanying Jack. Matt has now taken over the reins from his father and runs the family business. He is horticulturally trained to degree level and has been a big supporter of the company apprenticeship scheme, including becoming an Apprentice Ambassador.
6. Please share a specific success story involving one of your apprentices
Jack works on a variety of our contracts to expand his skills based, including designing and developing a part of the prestigious rose garden at Alexandra Park and Palace for the 150 year anniversary celebrations. He was also named as Apprentice of the Week and interviewed as part of Huffington Posts’ Apprenticeships feature.
He regularly works with us to promote Apprenticeships, attending workshops with the Managing Director and Operations Director at John O’Conner who are both Apprenticeships Ambassadors for The National Apprenticeships Service.
7. Please give a brief high level summary of your business operations
Established in 1969, John O’Conner (GM) Ltd is a family owned award winning specialist grounds maintenance provider. We have an extensive client portfolio of Local Authorities, Housing Associations and Educational & Commercial clients.
John O’Conner have recently achieved the following awards in recognition of our training and development opportunities:
• Finalist in Hertfordshire Business Awards 2014 – Supporting Young People Category
• BALI Employer of the Year 2013 – Principal Employer of the Year
• Highly Commended Newcomer Employer of the Year 2013 awarded by The National Apprenticeship Service
8. Please give a relevant press contact from your organisation
Matt O’Conner, Managing Director & Neha Patel, Business Development Manager
Tel: 01438 717 175 email@example.com
9. Please provide a quote that can be attributed to you and included in the press release…
“As a family owned company, we wish to nurture our family ethos and provide opportunities for people passionate about their work.
John O’Conner believe the ‘grow your own’ approach really benefits the business. Our apprenticeship scheme is producing some really talented individuals and I look forward to seeing them progress within the business in the future. We recognise that money spent on training is not a cost to the business, it is an investment and we are committed to developing and training future managers from the ground up.”
Matt O’Conner, Managing Director
National Apprenticeship Week 2015 runs from 9 – 13 March 2015.
What is National Apprenticeship Week?
National Apprenticeship Week is co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service and is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.
What are the objectives of the week?
The objective of National Apprenticeship Week 2015 is to increase awareness and take-up of apprenticeships and traineeships by:
• Promoting small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) apprenticeships – highlighting the support available;
• ‘Myth-busting’ by addressing misconceptions about apprenticeships and demonstrating the breadth of apprenticeships that are on offer;
• Celebrating the work of apprenticeships and the businesses that employ them.