During National Apprentice Week, a nationwide celebration that gives businesses, communities and educators the opportunity to showcase their apprenticeship programs, seemed like the most fitting time for Fullerton Grounds Maintenance (FGM), headquartered in Kenvil, New Jersey, to officially launch the NALP Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program. The inaugural group will begin their journey with this career-shaping program this week.
Scott Fullerton, company owner, says there were three key reasons why he decided the apprenticeship program was a good fit for FGM. We asked him to share his thought process about what led him to start.
FGM Apprenticeship Reason #1: In-House Training
Fullerton says an internal training program, which would allow the company to promote from within, was something they’d already been considering. Without an existing program, Fullerton says they were going to create it themselves. That’s why he was excited about the opportunity when NALP first announced it.
“When we saw there was a formalized version of something that we’d already been thinking about doing, we wanted to be involved immediately,” Fullerton says. “We knew this would allow us to internally train those within the company who we see potential in and who want to go further. We currently have three apprentices enrolled—two newer employees and one existing employee. We’re excited to get started.”
FGM Apprenticeship Reason #2: Recruiting from Colleges
In addition to using an apprenticeship to train existing employees, Fullerton also sees it as a great way to recruit new hires from area colleges. This is something they’ve already started doing and Fullerton says they’re getting positive feedback.
“You go out to these colleges to try to recruit 20-year-olds but they’re nervous about entering the workforce,” he says. “We think they’ll see this as an invaluable stepping stone. This apprenticeship program is going to ensure they learn everything they need to learn. They will be in the field trying and learning everything, and we’re paying them to do it. It really puts them at ease. They will be able to learn where they feel they fit best. Also, this prepares them to begin their careers.”
Fullerton says once apprentices complete the program, they’re going to be much more valuable—and marketable.
“That means that not only are they more valuable to us but to others,” Fullerton says. “That means that we ultimately need to plan to pay them more and offer them opportunities for advancement. But that’s what this is all about. You want the best people. If you are going to be the best, you have to hire and retain the best.”
FGM Apprenticeship Reason #3: Recruiting from Unemployment Offices
The third reason Fullerton wanted to use the apprenticeship program was to be more successful at recruiting from unemployment offices. He wants to train existing employees and recruit from colleges, and he also wants to recruit from outside the industry.
“I want to reach people who have the intelligence to be a manager and enjoy the outdoors but might not have considered the landscape industry before,” Fullerton says. “Say, for instance, there is someone who has IT training, but they’re not finding a job. They enjoy being outside and have other characteristics that would make them a good team member. We can show them they can have a path to success here. We are able to train them with all of the skills that they’ll need to be a landscaper. They’ll ultimately earn a valuable certificate that will provide them with a lot of opportunity.”