A new direction

Apprenticeships aren’t just open to those leaving school, as 29-year-old Melanie Ross discovered a few years ago.

Having spent five years studying architecture at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and leaving with a degree, Melanie found herself not knowing where to go next.

“I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” she said.

“There wasn’t really any jobs available so I started looking for a new direction.”

While working part-time at Harry Corry, Melanie discovered some long-distance learning courses at Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, which kicked off her interest in the outdoors.

Melanie Ross at work

She said: “That got me interested in gardening and plants and things like that. Then I saw the job advertisement for a landscape apprentice with Aberdeenshire Council and I just thought I’d try out for it and I was successful.”

Melanie said she didn’t really know a lot about apprenticeships and learned as she went. The apprenticeship consisted of mostly on-site training with a two-week college course twice a year.

“Twice a year we did two weeks at Elmwood College in Cupar where we took classes and some more formal training,” she said.

“The rest of the time was out on site, working with the squads, doing what they were doing and learning the ropes.”

At the end of her apprenticeship, a job became available at the council for a technical officer for landscape services – and after applying, she was again successful.

Aberdeenshire Council is one of the many that have pledged to take on apprentices as part of our Apprentice 100 campaign. There are five vacancies to fill and Melanie would encourage everyone to consider applying for them.

She added: “I had a great experience, I learned a lot and met a lot of different people. It was good meeting other apprentices too. There were apprentices at Aden Country Park as well so we got to meet up with them and share experiences.

Melanie Ross

“I would certainly recommend apprenticeships, it’s a good experience, you really need to enjoy the work and need to be self-motivated and you’ve got to be a team player. It’s a good way to learn, it’s very different to book study and I find it a lot easier to learn and pick up new things by doing them rather than sitting in a classroom and learning that way.”

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