Ollie Gordon gained a Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Horticulture at Writtle University College.
He is proud to be working as a Head Gardener and offers the next generation of apprentices opportunities to gain hands-on skills, while completing a qualification.
He explained: "Apprenticeships mean you're learning on the job whilst studying. Most of the best apprentices are easy to talk to and give advice to and having apprentices helps the company work in a way it needs to."
Ollie always had a strong interest in the gardening sector. Before starting his own apprenticeship, he studied for a Level 2 qualification in Practical Horticulture and a classroom-based horticulture programme, with the aim of learning more about his chosen career path.
"These were a means to get into the sector," said Ollie. "I was also working as a support worker/gardener on a garden project called The Gates with people with severe learning disabilities."
Ollie completed an apprenticeship with Writtle University College, while working at Upminster Court (a Uniserve HQ property). He managed the seven acre site through his Level 3 apprenticeship, assuming a head gardener role by the end of his time there.
Ollie said: "I researched practical skills and plant based knowledge. I was given backing to improve the grounds the best I could."
- Five years ago, he moved to his current employer and is now Head Gardener for Evergreen Gardeners. "My biggest challenge has been to adapt and assume a leadership style," he explained. "I enjoy learning about people and their behaviour and how to talk to individuals and get the most out of them."
"Keeping customers year after year and building on what we have as a company is a big highlight, even more so when my team excel in keeping a customer or contract with a property."
Ollie feels that there's always more to discover in the horticulture sector and encourages his apprentices to take a pro-active approach to learning. "The job enables me to use a wide range of practical skills and feel I'm always trying to develop my skills on and off the tools, so I can be a well-rounded Head Gardener."
"I feel I'm still learning and I always pass this on to the apprentices as I don't want them to be complacent after completing their apprenticeship. They need to have a genuine interest to enjoy and excel in horticulture."
Click here to learn more about Writtle University College's Apprenticeships: https://writtle.ac.uk/Apprenticeships