Parks apprenticeship scheme grows after cash boost

TEN more apprentices are to be taken on by Kirklees Parks and Open Spaces.

A 700,000 package being made available by the Government will create 175 additional council horticulture apprenticeships across England.

Working in Parks and Open Spaces teams across Kirklees, they will learn a range of horticultural skills from gardening, nursery production, and forestry to landscape production and driving tractors.

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An original scheme, run in association with the Government's Learning and Skills Council, was launched a year ago.

There were 160 applications for the 10 places.

The scheme, aimed at providing apprentices with both a grounding in horticulture and a firm foundation from which to pursue a career in that area, has proved successful.

It is one of the schemes shortlisted as possible contenders in the Yorkshire and Humber finals of this year's national Apprenticeship Awards.

"The apprentices are going from strength to strength and our training is being widely recognised," said Steve Taylor, parks and open spaces divisional manager, who is in charge of the apprenticeship scheme.

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For the latest scheme Kirklees has won an extra 40,000 through the GreenSkills apprenticeship scheme run by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, a Government advisory body.

They will work towards an NVQ Level 2 qualification in amenity horticulture, at the same time receiving a training allowance of 95 for a 37-hour week.

All the training is done through Bishop Burton College, in Beverley, a specialist horticultural training college.

Recruitment for the additional apprenticeships will start in May. Information will be posted on Kirklees Council's website,