Writtle College Apprentice employed at Arsenal Football Club

March 2016

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

National Apprenticeship Week (14-18 March 2016) marks a nationwide celebration of the fantastic opportunities and benefits an apprenticeship can offer to individuals and businesses. At Writtle College we are proud of our hard-working apprentices and so we love to shout about how amazing they are.

Writtle College offers apprenticeships in Agriculture, Animal Care (including Dog Grooming), Environmental Conservation, Equine Studies, Floristry, Horticulture and Veterinary Nursing. The scheme provides a mix of on and off-the-job training, at the same time as gaining a nationally-recognised qualification.

One of our recent Horticulture apprentices, Tom Grafen, is currently working as Assistant Groundsman at Arsenal Football Club at the Emirates Stadium. Tom, 19, from Glemsford in Suffolk, completed a three-year apprenticeship at Writtle College, working in a variety of work placements and achieving both his Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications in Groundsmanship (Sports Turf). He is also on the Young Board of Directors at the Institute of Groundsman and a Match Day Groundsman at Wembley Stadium. During his apprenticeship Tom also worked at Ipswich Town and Milton Keynes Football Clubs.

Tom said: “The completion of my apprenticeship at Writtle College and the achievement of my Level 2 and 3 qualifications has allowed me to progress further in my career, allowing me to secure my current job. It will also open up further opportunities in the future for new jobs in higher positions.

“I chose to study at Writtle College for a number of reasons; firstly because they offered the course that I wanted to take and secondly because both the facilities for practical learning and the classroom side are second to none. However, the most important factor was because of the tutor - Nigel Beckford. His passion for the subject and all-round knowledge is incredible. Also the list of students in the industry at high profile places that he has taught over the years is unbelievable.

“My time at Writtle College was the best time of my educational life. I much preferred college to school as you are treated more like an adult, which I think enabled me to get more out of it. All the staff were very helpful and there was also a wide range of other additional courses available such as First Aid, Spraying courses and other equipment qualifications.

“I would like to continue to further my career in the industry and work my way towards becoming a Head Groundsman of my own site or stadium, whether it be in the UK, Europe or the rest of the world.”

Nigel Beckford, Course Manager for Horticultural Apprenticeships at Writtle College, said: “I am very proud of what Tom has achieved – his drive, ambition, clear thinking and passion has always been evident and he has been relentless in his pursuit of a worthwhile career.”

Katherine Ball, Apprenticeship and Employer Engagement Manager said: “At Writtle we take pride in seeing our apprentices achieving in the workplace and here on site. The Apprenticeship programme supports learners to develop their knowledge and practical skills, but also to learn key life and work skills, to become fully rounded, long-term employee material. It gives us great satisfaction to see this development over the two or three years that they are with us, and the success of learners like Tom is rewarding for the student and staff alike! Writtle Apprenticeships are going from strength to strength, with success rates of 100% in the majority of our subject areas. Apprentice numbers have risen from 160 this time last year, to 205 currently, and we look forward to welcoming new employers and learners to the scheme in the coming year.”

To find out more about Apprenticeships, please visit writtle.ac.uk/Apprenticeships