The Arboricultural Apprenticeship in Ireland is now entering into its third year and the first groups of apprentices who started back in 2021 are now fully qualified.
To get an insight into the apprenticeship scheme, we decided to interview Charlie Agg, a climber at Ian Alcock Tree Services, who went through the apprenticeship scheme at Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB) and is now fully qualified and working in the industry.
Charlie Agg, a qualified apprentice working as a climber at Ian Alcock Tree Services.
Why did you decide to get into arboriculture and do the apprenticeship? Coming from a background of outdoor education I have always had a passion for working outdoors and the natural world, especially trees. Several of my good friends work in arboriculture worldwide and I was always interested in the career. Following on from the uncertainty of the pandemic I began to look at arboriculture as a career path and applied to start the apprenticeship.
How long was the apprenticeship? The apprenticeship was two years long. The first year was organised as four weeks of work followed by two weeks of off-the-job learning at the GRETB in Clonbur, County Galway. The second year was three weeks of work followed by two weeks of learning.
What was your favourite part of the apprenticeship? My favourite part of the apprenticeship was the tree identification and tree biology modules during our learning phases at college. I found these modules the most interesting, especially the parts on the CODIT model and tree biomechanics. I also enjoyed the practical learning blocks, as they were always very informative and it gave everyone on the course an opportunity to work together and have a laugh.
What did you find to be the most challenging part of the apprenticeship? Initially I found going back to a learning environment a struggle after being out of education for a long time and therefore found keeping on top of the projects and coursework set during our working weeks difficult. As it can be such a physical job it was difficult to motivate myself to complete written work after a long day working outdoors.
Did the apprenticeship prepare you for the working environment? Yes, it did. It not only provided us with the practical skills necessary to safely carry out work whilst on the job but through the learning modules it also provided us with an in-depth knowledge of the theory side of tree work and tree management.
What are your long-term career prospects? The way the apprenticeship has been set up has provided me with several different career paths. I could continue to work in the industry with the prospect of establishing my own tree services company. I could use the knowledge I gained on the course to complete my professional tree inspection course and then go on to complete tree surveying works. Lastly, I could use my qualifications from this course to continue my education and complete a degree in arboriculture.
For further information on the Arboricultural Apprenticeship in Ireland please visit www.gretb.ie/arboriculture/
This article was taken from Issue 203 Winter 2023 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.