Green Skills course reaches tree-mendous finale


A celebration and awards ceremony has marked the final day of a Green Skills course, which has taken 11 unemployed young people and involved them in the construction of a community tree nursery.

The six-week programme which was funded by site owners, Urban&Civic, provided the volunteers with work experience and an opportunity to gain a Construction Skills Certification Scheme card by carrying out practical projects on the land including building raised tree nursery beds, building steps and constructing tool storage units. These tasks supported the creation of Alconbury Weald's community tree nursery, which will start to provide some of the half a million trees which will be planted as part of the development's 700 acres of green space.

Tim Leathes, Project Director for Urban&Civic, said:

“Today is an opportunity to congratulate the young people who have worked so hard over recent weeks and to present them with their certificates. We hope this pilot scheme, delivered by local community charity Groundwork, will be just the start of opening up opportunities within the development of Alconbury Weald and the Enterprise Campus.

“The first 10 raised beds have now been completed and will be used to nurture tree saplings into semi-mature trees ready to be transplanted around Alconbury Weald.  Establishing the tree nursery in the first stages of the development will ensure that the saplings will be ready to plant as Alconbury Weald starts to take shape.”

The eleven young adults selected from an initial group of 40 to take part in the programme to establish the tree nursery are currently unemployed but, through their work with Groundwork, have had the opportunity to partake in a City & Guilds qualification in Employability. They were also able to work towards gaining the CSCS Certificate, the Construction Skills Certificate Scheme which will demonstrate to future employers that they have attained an agreed level of occupational competence.  These cards are increasingly demanded as evidence of occupational competence by contractors.

Ryan Halliday, aged 20, from Huntingdon said: 

“Being able to get out here on site is so much better than sitting at home doing nothing.  We had to go through a group interview process to get this opportunity but it has been worth it – we will end up with qualifications to add to our CVs and the guys from Groundwork look after us well.”

Groundwork, the leading environmental regeneration charity,   aims to bring benefits both to people and the environment through projects which help people to gain confidence and skills at the same time as using the environment as a catalyst for building a more sustainable future.

Chris Dungate, from Groundwork Hertfordshire, said: 

“This is a practical project which gives volunteers an opportunity to improve their practical landscaping skills, their interviewing technique and their confidence in securing employment. This has been a successful partnership project between Groundwork, Urban&Civic, Huntingdon Regional College and Jobcentre Plus that has provided an effective short-course that benefits those looking to work in this industry.

“Following the mock interviews we carried out as part of the programme two have been asked for further discussions with a property maintenance contractor locally and we are working with partners to place the others in apprenticeships and further training which they are keen to do.”


Additional Information

About the course:
• The course lasted six weeks, with work carried out two full days every week
• Qualifications included: Level 1 Award in Employability and Personal Development – covering applying for a job, CV and interview skills including mock interviews
• CSCS Health and Safety Card (General Operative)
• Practical skills included: joinery/use of power tools/measuring/mixing concrete/tree planting
• Other learning outcomes included: Health & Safety awareness/implementation of H&S/manual handling/team working/communication skills/confidence building.

About Groundwork:
Groundwork has over 27 years of experience in delivering bespoke projects that use the environment as a catalyst for building a more sustainable future. Last year alone they delivered over 200 projects, helping improve the quality of people's lives, their prospects and potential and the places where they live, work and play. Further information can be found at

Alconbury Weald Tree Nursery:
Owners of Alconbury Weald Urban&Civic have formed a partnership with Huntingdonshire Community Nursery based in Godmanchester and have also provided funding for a full-time ranger  who is taking the lead in creating the tree nursery at Alconbury.
Further information about the planned development of Alconbury Weald, Urban&Civic or the local projects contact Rebecca Britton, Community Liaison Officer, tel 01480 413141, mob 07739 339889, email  

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