Fenlander: Planting the seeds of new skills

FIVE young apprentices took a short break from their duties to give Fenland District Council’s Leader and Deputy Leader an insight into their work at the Delamore plant in Wisbech St Mary.

Councillors Alan Melton and Chris Seaton were on a visit to Delamore to meet with its managing director, Wayne Eady, and discuss progress towards the establishment of a new horticultural skills centre there.

Pictured here with Cllrs Melton and Seaton are John Edwards, Owen Drew, Perry Smithson, Mercedes Ryder and Ron Pears.

They are among seven apprentices who embarked on a new skills programme at Delamore in September. They have been doing a wide range of work inside and outside the company’s extensive glasshouses, including growing, plant trials, maintenance, despatch and stock administration.

Mr Eady said: “They have been on the programme for two months now and they’re all doing brilliantly. They’ve brought a sense of enthusiasm to the company and they’re all keen to learn as much as they can, both about all aspects of horticulture and about Delamore as a company.”

The apprenticeship programme is the first stage in the move to set up a new horticultural skills centre, one of the key projects of the Wisbech 2020 Vision.

Delamore, like other Fenland companies, has had considerable difficulties recruiting suitably qualified staff because of serious skills shortages within the industry.

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The new centre will be modelled on the successful engineering skills centre that has been established at Metalcraft in Chatteris. Building work will start as soon as possible and it is hoped that it will be in place within the next 12 months.

Its aims include the development of curriculum-based skills training for pupils in the 14-16 age group and the creation of apprenticeships and work-based employment opportunities for 16-19-year-olds.

Cllr Seaton, who is also FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for economic development, said: “Significant improvements in training and skills development are absolutely vital for Fenland’s future prosperity and are a key element in the council’s economic strategy.

“That’s why we entered into the successful partnership with Metalcraft to develop opportunities in engineering and why we’re now delighted to be working with Delamore in the field of horticulture.”

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