SUPPORT AND OPPORTUNITY

4th Corner’s First Apprentice

FACT FILE
Name: Giorgo 
Title: Head of Soft Landscaping 
Age: 22

Giorgo joined 4th Corner as an apprentice in 2012, at the age of 16. Six years on, he has progressed through Skilled Operative and Team Leader to being appointed Head of Soft Landscaping. 

Giorgo’s interest in horticulture developed from his preference for hands on, outdoor work, “I liked the idea of changing an area from a blank canvas into something people can enjoy.” 

After responding to an ad on the government’s online apprenticeship site, Giorgo had an interview with 4th Corner Director Julian Ransom. Having been to previous interviews in office settings, Giorgo was a bit taken aback at Julian’s more hands-on approach, interviewing him at his home, in his kitchen to discuss his ambitions and plans for the future. Giorgo’s initial surprise was quickly overcome.

“Julian was straight to the point and down to earth and I felt we connected right away, he had a good vision for the future of the company and for my future in it, and wanted me to start at “grass roots” and progress through the company – which is exactly what I have done.”  

The Apprenticeship Scheme included both site work and college courses. In achieving his NVQ 2 and NVQ 3 in Horticulture, Giorgo has studied:

• Plant identification and propagation
• Plant selection, establishment and maintenance
• Plant nutrition and the root environment
• Plant health problems
• Machinery and equipment selection and use
• Garden planning
• Management of green spaces, including budgeting and prioritising work

This two-fold approach created a mutually beneficial learning circle. “I learned things at college that I could directly transfer to 4th Corner. For example, the knowledge I gained in class helped to make our first tree planting contract more efficient. The knowledge I gained from working on site provided evidence to support my qualifications.”

Giorgo was most inspired by the business skills he developed during the course. He said, “along with knowledge about plants, I learned how to quote for and manage projects. My confidence has increased greatly through my apprenticeship.” 

While moving up through the company, Giorgo has also developed people management skills. Having been “on the tools” himself, he understands the importance of engaging with the teams who are carrying out the work. 
When asked if he would recommend apprenticeships to young people, Giorgo replied, “Absolutely, being an apprentice provides hands on experience and allows you to choose exactly what you’re interested in and then take that forward.”

Giorgo’s advice to potential horticulturalists is:

• Figure out what aspect of horticulture really interests you. What will make you ask questions and want to learn more?
• Do a trial before committing to the apprenticeship. If possible, try work experience before leaving school to be sure the role suits you.
• See the value in the education and skills you’re obtaining rather than the financial rewards, they will come later. • Work with & for people who motivate you.

To employers thinking of taking on an apprentice, Giorgo says: “Provide work experience opportunities and trials that last at least three to four weeks before you make the investment, a few days are not enough to gauge levels of interest and/or dedication.” 

Over the next five years, Giorgo aims to develop 4th Corner’s landscaping Soft Landscaping Division further and assist in the recruitment of more successful apprentices. 

Giorgo also wants to build on 4th Corner’s already exceptional environmental profile, to meet the industry’s increasing focus on sustainability and good environmental practice.

To apply for an apprenticeship at 4th Corner go to our Join Our Team page.