The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced by the government in 2017 as an incentive to encourage large employers to invest in top quality training. Gristwood & Toms have embraced the scheme, integrating it into their training programmes and taking advantage of the benefits it has to offer. It has certainly helped them to focus attention on employing and training a loyal, enthusiastic and engaged workforce.

Gristwood & Toms now have a training department where unskilled new recruits undergo a full two year apprenticeship. And whilst they are effectively in full time education during this time they are also employed by the company and entitled to all the benefits of full time employment.

The Apprenticeship programme is modular and incorporates plenty of study and manual work. Apprentices cover classroom subjects such as tree biology, tree care and management, current law and regulations and out on site they gain experience in tree climbing, tree surgery and Arboricultural groundworks including tree planting and maintenance.

At the end of the two year course the apprentices receive a Level 2 diploma together with a suite of Professional Certificates of Competence. Moreover they are ready to enter the arboriculture industry with a guarantee of a work placement within the company.

Derek (Mac) McFarland, who heads up the Apprenticeship programme at Gristwood & Toms, says “This is not just a job, it’s a career. There are no limits to achievement here. The training is continuous for those who want it and there’s no reason why they can’t progress to Level 6 and go on into management or specialise in areas such as Tree Surveying.”

“We’re looking for people who are keen and hungry to succeed” continues Mac. “There are no barriers. Age or gender is irrelevant although determination and desire are essential.”

To find out more about apprenticeship opportunities at Gristwood & Toms, visit their website or apply via the National Apprenticeship Service at