A celebration event was held recently to recognise the success of Outdoor Amenities employees who secured a SQA Level 2 or Level 3 in horticulture.
Outdoor Amenities run their own SQA approved training centre to ensure that employees and Modern Apprentices have the opportunity to learn new skills and work towards national qualifications.
In addition to the 16 employees who received a certificate from the Chief Executive, Fiona Lees, a group of five modern apprentices were congratulated on completing a modern apprentice challenge.
The challenge was called The MA Potters and involved five young people who worked closely with two local primary schools, Shortlees and Kirkstyle, creating planters for the schools and a community garden in Onthank for the Workers Education Association (WEA).
The five young people became involved in the scheme after working with Margorie Harvie, 16+ Transitions Officer, on an activity agreement. An activity agreement is the first step into work for some of our hardest to reach younger people who have become disillusioned with school.
Working with Margorie, the young people grew in confidence through literacy and numeracy training and support from the Education team and Vibrant Communities. They then took part in work taster sessions gradually building up to 12 week work placement programmes. All five young people really flourished in the workplace and their placements provided them with the appropriate experience to then successfully apply for modern apprentice places.
When the five apprentices started their challenge, they brainstormed ideas and came up with the idea of creating planters. The team approached John Wilson, Senior Education Manager, who was very enthusiastic about the idea of introducing a hands-on, educational dimension to horticulture in early years.
The team met with the two Headteachers and developed their ideas further creating a ‘food train’. The apprentices designed and built train carriage planters for the little ones to grow both vegetables and plants.
The planters were made with support and guidance from Council tradesmen and were painted by young people from Enable.
Once the planters were in situ, the apprentices then delivered a presentation on the food chain at each school and a fun planting workshop which all the pupils thoroughly enjoyed.
The children also named their own train station. Kirkstyle named their station Rainbow Flower Station and Shortlees named theirs Rosie Bloom Station.
MA Potters has been such a huge success that the team has been entered into the annual Chamber of Commerce Modern Apprentice Challenge. Working through the application process with Margorie and their mentor, and SQA Verifier, Roddy Hood, the team impressed with their confidence and maturity. The team will now take part in the grand final which will be held at the Park Hotel in October.
Councillor Stephanie Primrose, Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning said: “I am incredibly proud of all our employees who have worked towards their SQA’s. Their commitment to learning ensures that our workforce is skilled and ready for the future.”
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council attended the celebration event. He said: “I was very pleased to offer special congratulations to Scott Thomson, Gary Lochlon, Jon-Lee Parker, Leevi Stebbings and Shaun Moore, also known as the MA Potters. Their journey has been transformational and inspirational. Poor attendance at school meant that they left with few qualifications and seemed far from being ready for the world of work.
“Through the Activity Agreement programme, employability training and their apprenticeship with Outdoor Amenities, they have grown into confident young men; showing commitment and skills that are an asset to the Council. As Modern Apprentices, they have produced the very highest quality of work and created a project to be proud of.
“I wish them every success at the final of the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce Challenge but they are already winners in my book.”