The Lost Gardens of Heligan was recognised as Cornwall’s SME Apprentice Employer of the Year at the 2022 Cornwall Apprenticeship Awards, having added Hospitality and Supervisory Apprenticeships to its traditional Horticultural programmes.

The new programmes, delivered in partnership with Truro and Penwith College, have resulted in the introduction of a number of new food outlets across the business, bringing increased profitability and improved service quality.

Managing Director Ramon Van de Velde joined Heligan in 2020, bringing renewed focus on learning and development as one of the businesses key priorities. Ramon said: “Committing to an Apprenticeship programme was the foundation of our focus on learning and development.

Ramon Van de Velde (right) and Aaron Robbins celebrate Cornwall Apprenticeship Award success. Credit: Lost Gardens of Heligan.

“In addition to our Horticulture programmes, 10% of our employees from other areas were given the opportunity to complete an Apprenticeship. Heligan has become an even better place to work because of its commitment to Apprenticeships, I have loved seeing all of our learner’s progress, improve and grow during their time with us.”

The new Apprenticeships have allowed Heligan to develop its own commis chefs at a time when skills shortages make it difficult to recruit along with hospitality supervisors, front of house and retail supervisors.

More qualified chefs have resulted in the opening of new food outlets, improving service and profitability. Apprentices are now running these outlets which Ramon comments has; “greatly improved feelings of ownership, responsibility and efficiency”.

Aaron Robbins, Apprentice Commis Chef, also enjoyed success at the 2022 Cornwall Apprenticeship Awards scooping Hospitality Apprentice of the Year.

When asked about the importance of Apprenticeships Ramon commented: “We believe all employers should run an Apprenticeship scheme.”

Start your Apprenticeship employment journey at Truro and Penwith College’s Apprenticeships: Skills For Life Conference this National Apprenticeship Week.