Three young horticultural apprentices, who travelled to Cardiff’s twin city of Nantes in France to gain new skills and experiences, have presented their findings to project partners.
Anthony Davies, Joshua Thatcher and Magdalena Szczerbinska spent three weeks with the Nantes Parks Department Beaujoire as part of the Cardiff Council Parks and Gardens Horticultural Apprenticeship Scheme, funded by the European Leonardo da Vinci Programme.
Cabinet Member for Sport, Leisure and Culture, Cllr Huw Thomas said: “We are extremely proud of the Council’s horticultural apprenticeship scheme which continues to provide young people with opportunity to learn valuable skills in an outdoor environment, utilising the city’s excellent parks and green spaces.
“This event will showcase what they have learnt and how the scheme has benefitted their studies as well as demonstrating how positive and credible the scheme is, having been awarded European funding.”
The event which took place on Wednesday 12, December at the Bute Park Education Centre also gave family members of the apprentices and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the major funder of heritage skills in Wales, the opportunity to discover what the group learnt during the work experience placement, including looking at the various differences and similarities between the two cities Councils and parks departments, vehicles and mechanisation, organisation and horticultural methods. They will also demonstrate some ideas that Cardiff could possibly implement here.
The apprentices undertook several French language tutorials in preparation for the placement improving language skills in addition to horticulture.
They worked with gardeners in the Jardin des Plantes, the Grand Blottereau park and the Beaujoire flower gardens.
Cardiff Council was successful in securing over 12,500 Euros from the Leonardo da Vinci Programme to develop the exchange programme for the Parks Services horticultural apprentices.
The Nantes exchange scheme has been a highly valuable part of the horticultural apprenticeship training programme which has the benefits of improving their horticultural skills and assisting in contributing to the apprentice’s curriculum for their studies in horticulture.
Jennifer Stewart, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Wales which is supporting a range of heritage skills work based placements, said: “This scheme has provided invaluable experiences and opportunities for the apprentices. It’s great to see Anthony, Joshua and Magdalena so passionate about developing the skills they need to take Wales’ heritage forward.
“In a tough job market it’s more important than ever that we invest in training placements to provide job-seekers or career changers with the practical skills and confidence they need to get jobs within the heritage sector. Such is the demand for these opportunities we have invested further in our Skills for the Future programme which is now open to new applicants until 31 January 2013.”
The Leonardo da Vinci Programme is part of the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme which supports education and training across Europe. It also provides opportunities for UK vocational education and training.
Cardiff Council’s horticultural apprenticeship scheme aims to develop skills through an in-house programme of practical training, combined with day release study. The scheme addresses the current skills gap in the industry and contributes to promoting career development and retaining a highly skilled workforce in the Parks Service.
As part of the programme, the apprentices benefit from a diverse range of activities and operations associated with horticulture including plant production and propagation, plant identification, conservation and tree management and fine turf.