What is it like employing an apprentice?

5 March 2019 Feature Article



To mark National Apprenticeship Week, we’re taking a closer look at one golf club that’s been keen to engage with apprentices.


Trentham Golf Club is a 18-hole members’ club in Stoke-on-Trent. The 125-year-old parkland course has previously hosted Open Championship Qualifying and national amateur events. 


Alongside The Greenkeepers Training Committee, which pioneered the new Trailblazer apprenticeship scheme, BIGGA is working to encourage youngsters to consider taking on a career within greenkeeping through work-based training.


The benefits for employers can also be huge, including gaining access to local, ambitious and inexpensive talent.


Trentham Course Manager Ed Stant has long been a supporter of hiring and developing apprentices and greenkeeper Rees Tomalin was one of the first to gain his qualifications through the new Trailblazer apprenticeship scheme.


In the second part of this series, we speak to Ed about how he finds the apprenticeship experience from the perspective of an employer.



Why should golf clubs consider hiring an apprentice?


Well, straight away it reduces the wage bill, making that more sustainable. The club is fully on board with wanting to hire local people, which I think is a good advert for the golf club. Also there’s the added benefit that we take them on, they’ve no bad habits, we can train them exactly as we want them to learn, and they are brought up in the way we expect. 


How do you balance work and study?


All of the apprentices here understand that they have to do a certain amount of work at home. We use Myerscough College and they come here and go through what the apprentices are learning. They then come back five to six weeks later. 


We try to give the apprentices time during the working week to study but, like everything, that doesn’t always come to pass with what’s going on around the club. There’s certainly more spare time in winter to allow them to do that. But usually the lads will turn around and say ‘we’ve already done our work’. That’s great, as long as they’re making sure they’ve got their own leisure time, that’s fine.


Do you have a relationship with your apprentice’s college?


When the tutor’s been in, we’ll sit down for 10 minutes at the end of the day. We’ll discuss what they’ve been doing, what we’d like them to focus on before they come back next time and we’ll discuss any concerns or how they’re getting on.


How have you found the new Trailblazer apprenticeship scheme?


Myerscough told us, at the time when Rees [Thomas] showed up, that you could either go with the new Trailblazer or the old system. Credit to Rees, he was happy to go for the new one, even though a lot of the learning material wasn’t available yet. 


I’m delighted that we’ve done that route because it’s a far better and more in-depth qualification than the old NVQs. 


Any employer will see that Reece has a distinction and that he has worked hard. And with the end point assessment of his exams and of the examiners coming to see him carrying out the job, any future employer knows that Rees is fully qualified and knows exactly what he’s doing. 


What advice would you give to someone who is interested in hiring an apprentice?


I would say go for it, as long as your club is fully supportive. Young lads and lasses are going to make mistakes and it’s a huge shock coming from school to working with older people in all weathers.


However the benefits are enormous. I’d embrace it, so long as they are prepared to give them the time and the patience, they will be rewarded.


For more information about greenkeeping apprenticeships, head to www.the-gtc.co.uk/learning/apprenticeships/or contact Fiona Lyttle or Emma Willis at The GTC by calling 01347 838640 or email emma@the-gtc.co.uk


Karl Hansell
BIGGA | Communications Executive


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