The UK’s leading supplier of British tomatoes, the APS Group realised it needed a career route for talented employees to ensure sustainable growth. With that in mind it worked with Reaseheath College in Cheshire, UK, to plan a bespoke Level 3 Apprenticeship for Crop Technicians which truly answered its needs.
The block release training programme is about to enter its third year and has worked so well that APS is keen to engage with other growers to make it applicable across the industry.
APS Group Safety Health and Environment Manager Gary Swayne, who oversees the apprenticeship, says: “I am a personal beneficiary of lifelong learning and I believe that this programme offers a way for the commercial horticultural industry to thrive and grow.
“It has delivered an in-depth knowledge to our crop workers, who now have the ability to develop and progress. Reaseheath College has had the foresight to invest in glasshouses and equipment which mirror the commercial environment and has experienced staff to deliver the training. This has paid dividends and is the reason we are here. No-one else has comparable facilities.”
APS apprentices find it doubly beneficial to do their training at Reaseheath. As well as expanding their practical skills in industry standard glasshouses, they also value learning from peers from sites within the company’s nationwide network which operate different growing systems. Discussion groups are part of the academic study, along with subjects ranging from plant and soil science to machinery use and health and safety.
Trainee Growing Manager Oliver Capel, who joined the company 12 years ago as a crop picker, says: “I applied for this apprenticeship because it provides a direct springboard up the career ladder. I now have more opportunities and a lot more responsibilities. The training is good because it applies directly to our working lives. As well as the horticultural side we learn to manage budgets and people and look at codes of practice and industry standards.”