Further your career with an apprenticeship in Suffolk

A person standing in a soil ditch, while holding a mallet

Adem Clark did a level three apprenticeship and is now a team leader at TKE Landscaping - Credit: Adem Clark

National Apprenticeship Week is taking place from February 7 to 13, 2022. The campaign aims to highlight the importance of these qualifications to the UK. 

Supporting over 1,000 apprentices and working with hundreds of businesses across the region, Suffolk New College and Suffolk Rural (formerly Otley College) are keen to get the message out that these qualifications are a great way to further your career or boost skill levels within your organisation. 

Here we talk to two apprentices and the director of apprenticeships at the college to find out more.

A person standing in front of a flower bed, which has a tree and plants in

Oliver King is coming to the end of his horticulture apprenticeship - Credit: Oliver King

Oliver King, 39, went to university and trained to become a teacher. He then went on to teach physical education in this region for 12 years before deciding he wanted to retrain. 

Having always liked the outdoors, the Burwell resident set about looking for work in horticulture. 

He explains: “I managed to get a position as a gardener at the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds – I went for it and got it. 

“Whilst doing this job, I was encouraged by West Suffolk County Council to start on an apprenticeship programme. 

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“I enjoyed my time at the Abbey Gardens, but an opportunity came up to raise the standards of the grounds at The Perse School in Cambridge. I didn’t think I was qualified enough – but my assessor at the college (Simon) encouraged me to go for it and I got the job in September 2021. 

“I’m coming towards the end of the programme now and I’ve got no regrets. My assessor has been with me every step of the way. He is always responsive – even over weekends – and I’ve just loved learning a new skill. 

“I really enjoy being outside with nature – it’s great for your wellbeing and I like the fact that you can see the impact that you are having in your work, every day. 

“I never thought I’d be doing this in my 30s but I love it and would recommend it (apprenticeships) to others. Long term, my colleague and I have a five-year plan to improve the school grounds. Job satisfaction wise, I’ve never been happier.” 

Adem Clark, 24, works for TKE landscaping. 

He said: “I’m an outdoors person and I enjoy the freedom and fresh air of working outside – so my job is perfect for me. Every day is different. 

“I took a level three apprenticeship in horticultural landscaping with Suffolk Rural and the college is amazing. If you were struggling, you could always turn to someone. 

“I’ve managed to progress through the ranks and I’m now a team leader and I want to go as far as I can in my career. 

“I decided to follow this route as I’d say with university, you get the knowledge but you don’t necessarily get the experience. With an apprenticeship, you get the best of both worlds.” 

A person standing in front of large tents outdoors

Claire Casbolt, head of business development at Suffolk New College and Suffolk Rural - Credit: Suffolk New College

Head of business development at Suffolk New College and Suffolk Rural is Claire Casbolt. She said: “Apprenticeship training is such a positive approach to becoming a valued member of the team for the company you work for. We have really high conversion of apprentices into sustained employment once they complete their training, so it is a great kick-start to a career - and the hands-on training and experience they undertake is invaluable. 

“We currently offer around 65 different apprenticeship training routes, with 10 of these relating to agriculture, environmental animal care that also encompass equine, golf greenkeeping and sports turf training routes. In addition we have opened new routes in transport and logistics, supporting national priorities. Suffolk New College has excellent workshop facilities to support the apprentices; training experience and the introduction of a Tech Campus in Ipswich College will enable the expansion of digital apprenticeships.” 

The college has a dedicated team on hand to support potential apprentices and employers. To find out more information you can email apprenticeships@suffolk.ac.uk or call 01473 382458.