About 35 years ago, I met Joe Morello at Humber College. Back then, I was the coordinator of the Landscape Program and Joe was a first-year apprentice enrolled in the Horticultural Technician Program.
Joe eventually went on to start Premier Landscaping & Design, a well-regarded provider of high-end landscape services in the Greater Toronto Area. Joe later served as the president of Landscape Ontario’s Toronto Chapter, and he is currently chair of the association’s Landscape Contractor’s Sector Group. I would venture to say that the Apprenticeship Program changed Joe’s life for the better.
Joe is not alone. I have personally observed many others who have benefited from the Apprenticeship Program. Recently, I listened to a great podcast called the Impact of Apprenticeship. You can find it at landscapeontario.com/podcast.
In the podcast, LO’s Scott Barber interviews James Canton (a landscape contractor), Steve Neumann (Algonquin College professor), and Kelly Harsh (a Red Seal Certified Journeyperson). James began his career through education at Algonquin College and eventually started his own business. He now sponsors apprentices like Kelsey — one of his employees. Their stories are further proof of how the Apprenticeship Program changes lives for the better.
The Apprenticeship Program is a gift that keeps on giving. It was started years ago by Landscape Ontario. It was designed by the profession for the profession. The first program was hosted at Humber College, but now several colleges throughout the province, including Algonquin, Fanshawe and Mohawk, offer in-school training.
By far, one of the most difficult issues facing our profession is employee recruitment and retention. It is a proven fact that when employers offer training opportunities to staff, they stay longer. Knowledge breeds enthusiasm. Employees begin to understand that becoming a landscape professional is a rewarding career. The competency of the organization is enhanced. As far as I can see, there is no downside to enrolling your employees in the Apprenticeship Program.
The Apprenticeship Program provides your organization with a built-in, industry-designed training program that elevates skills and enhances safety. It provides employees with a sense of pride. In addition, there are huge financial incentives for both the employer and employee that also make it a no-brainer from a cost perspective. The apprentice even earns wages while they learn.
In my view, every member of Landscape Ontario should consider enrolling at least one employee in the Apprenticeship Program. And when it comes to enrolling, Landscape Ontario has a dedicated team of specialists that can assist you with every step of the process.
For more information, visit the Apprenticeship Program website at HorticultureTechnician.ca and email me directly if you are interested.
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director