The theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2023 is ‘Skills for Life’. It’s something we understand very well here at Randall Thorp, because landscape architecture demands a broad range of expertise and skills beyond what we learn at school and university.
The traditional route into landscape architecture is through a recognised degree study course, but it’s not the only career path into the sector, and Randall Thorp began its apprenticeship scheme in 2020, in a bid to attract new talent from different sources.
Choosing to run an apprenticeship scheme is a considerable responsibility. For an apprenticeship to work to everyone’s benefit, apprentices need to be properly integrated into the business - as you would any new employee, and they should receive the support and guidance they need to further their career, develop their skills and expand their knowledge.
Our current apprentice, Dan Asha, exemplifies our approach: Dan studied hard and achieved good A levels in Geography and 3D Product design. After winning a place at university to study landscape architecture, the pandemic began. Faced with what might have been a diminished university experience ahead, Dan deferred his entry and started working in retail to keep things ticking over while he considered his options. Simultaneously we opened an apprenticeship scheme at our Studio, having recently found a trustworthy provider and academic partner to work with. Dan was the stand-out candidate and joined Randall Thorp in 2020.
Since then, Dan has become an integral part of the team, and will soon be a qualified Landscape Technician, following his two-year programme of study at Capel Manor College, London’s only specialist environmental college. His enthusiasm and motivation mean he is quick to learn transferable skills in image manipulation, CAD, computer graphics, desktop publishing, and communications, whilst studying one day a week for his academic qualification.
Apprenticeships offer school leavers a practical and effective route into landscape architecture, whether they are considering higher education or not, and the chance to learn from experienced professionals in their working environment. Importantly for young people, an apprenticeship is also a paid position, so they are earning from day one. This can be a tremendous boost to confidence and self-reliance.
Dan is clear on the advantages, saying, “Since starting at Randall Thorp, I think I’ve learned a hundred times more than I could have at university. Asking for help and advice is encouraged! It means I’ve got to know the whole team, and I’m picking up new skills and knowledge all the time.”
From Randall Thorp’s perspective, bringing Dan aboard as an apprentice has shown us that while there are talented young landscape architects graduating from university, higher education isn’t the sole source of new talent. The right school leavers can be a great asset to any design practice, with the help of a well-structured and managed apprenticeship.