Supported apprenticeship in landscaping

A UK first – a supported apprenticeship pathway has been expanded to help young people with learning difficulties develop work skills in landscaping
  • expanded programme will help students with learning difficulties transition into work
  • new college will mentor students through internships and onto apprenticeships
  • unique program comes after five years of collaboration between school and Ground Control

The New Year has got off to a good start for students at a West Midlands special needs school, with the expansion of a ground-breaking internship and training programme.

Over the past five years The Westminster Specialist College has worked closely with Ground Control – the country’s leading provider of landscaping and maintenance services – to develop an industry-first scheme to help support young people with learning difficulties.

The program identifies, supports and mentors students through an internship scheme before they transition to a grounds maintenance apprenticeship – a scheme that is now being expanded with the school launching and running a new training college.

The Westminster Specialist College will be able to offer more internships to selected students, all of whom will have access to the help and advice of a full-time staff member, working as mentor. They will also be offered workplace experiences on projects selected and overseen by Ground Control.

Once successfully completed, participants will be able to progress onto an apprenticeship programme – where they will again be offered support – to gain formal qualifications.

“We’ve already had a student successfully progress through this programme, gain his apprenticeship and take up full-time employment, so we know it works,” says Oliver Flowers, head teacher at The Westminster Specialist College. “Sadly, only five percent of people with learning difficulties get jobs once they’ve left education – our expanded programme will offer more of our young people a chance to beat those odds and develop meaningful independence.”

“The next young person – Kenny Hanney – has begun his journey and will soon begin his grounds maintenance apprenticeship. Our goal is to grow the numbers progressing through the pipeline and allow us to soon set up something truly innovative – our own field team of workers.”

Under the scheme Ground Control will continue to provide practical help and advice to the students, and co-ordinate with the college and educational bodies to help adjust aspects of the training to ensure it is accessible and inclusive for people with learning difficulties.

“It’s exciting to see the growth of such an innovative training programme,” says Roy Candlin, Contracts Manager at Ground Control. “The launch of the college shows the progress young people with learning difficulties can make when their training is made more flexible and some of the barriers to employment removed.”

“Interns will be given the chance to experience the world of work as a way for them to hopefully progress onto an apprenticeship. Our shared dream of building a fresh training pipeline and a pathway into employment – along with creating a new field team – is now firmly on the horizon.”

The National Apprenticeship Week takes place from Feb 7th – 13th, 2022.
Image: Kenny Hanney, who will soon begin his grounds maintenance apprenticeship with Ground Control

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