One of the country’s largest nurseries and environmental horticultural specialists – Shropshire-based Boningale Nurseries – is celebrating this year’s National Apprenticeship Week by sharing the positive impact that taking on young apprentices has had for the company.
As the UK marks National Apprenticeship Week, Frank Sandford, Sales and Marketing Director at Boningale, said the company is committed to giving young people a chance of learning while they earn.
Frank said the company developed its first apprenticeship programme in 2011 and since then 6 apprentices have been taken on across a range of business and horticultural disciplines.
“We have benefitted considerably because we have bright candidates learning on the job and complementing their in-house training with a solid academic qualification,” said Frank.
“It not only gives young people a first step on the ladder to a satisfying career, it enables us to train staff who really understand and care for our business.”
Working in partnership with Rodbaston College, in Penkridge, the award-winning company currently has four apprentices – two working towards their NVQ Level 2 work-based horticulture and two working towards their business administration qualifications.
Two members of staff who previously went through the company’s rigorous apprenticeship programme have now gone on to become permanent members of staff.
Mark Shorthouse, aged 24, passed his Level 2 in Work-Based Horticulture and is now a key member of staff in Boningale’s Garden Creations division, working both on site soft landscaping and in the office helping make sure that the jobs go smoothly for clients.
Another success story for Boningale is Kayleigh Rhode, who passed her NVQ Level 2 in Work-Based Horticulture and was involved in the creation and development of Boningale Greensky – the company’s green roof division.
“After completing her NVQ qualification, Kayleigh has continued to work in a sales role within the division and has quickly become very knowledgeable in green roofing, green walls and the plants and substrates that work best in these environments,” added Frank.
Now going through their NVQ Level 2 Work-Based Horticulture qualification are Ben Cable, aged 29, and 50-year-old Sarah Francis, who had both been employed by Boningale on seasonal work contracts and applied in 2013 for a full-time apprentice contract.
“Ben and Sarah are working to a structure that sees them spending time in the dispatch, propagation, and production departments to give them a broader knowledge of the industry,” says Frank. “It is giving them an in-depth insight into the work we undertake at Boningale and they are also receiving an excellent level of education that will result in a nationally recognised qualification.”
The latest recruits are Ben Groves and Ben Simmons, who are both undertaking a business administration course at Rodbaston College.
Keen musician Ben Groves, aged 26, previously worked at sister company, Worfield Gardens, as a dispatch operative and now works in a sales administration role at the company’s head office in Albrighton while he studies.
His colleague Ben Simmons, aged 21, is also working in a sales administration role and he said: “By doing an apprenticeship, I’m learning all the skills I need to work successfully in my chosen career and am earning, too. For me, it is the ideal kind of training, and I’m very fortunate that I get the full support of an experienced team around me.”